Johnnie Lindsey, Wrongfully Convicted of Rape, Wins Compensation Fight Against State

Categories: Legal Battles

Johnnie Lindsey, a Dallas man who spent 26 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit, dropped his lawsuit against Texas Comptroller Susan Combs Monday after she agreed to pay him for nearly five years' worth of compensation she initially shorted him.

Under state law, the wrongfully imprisoned are eligible for $160,000 for each year they spend locked up -- half paid in a lump sum and the other half in an annuity to be paid out for life, until death or a felony conviction. But the comptroller had denied Lindsey compensation for eight years of his sentence because he was serving a concurrent sentence on an attempted rape charge.

Lindsey, in a case before the Texas Supreme Court, argued that would have been out in four years and nine months under the mandatory release statute because of the number of good-behavior days he accumulated.

The case goes back to October 1982, when a white woman jogging along a path near White Rock Lake told police Lindsey tried to rape her. Lindsey, who's black, was told by his lawyer that because there was no physical evidence, it was her word against his and that he should take a plea deal.

Over his own reluctance, Lindsey did what the lawyer advised. And while serving his sentence a few months later, he received a warrant for a 1981 rape in the same area. The victim, a white woman, picked Lindsey out of a lineup in which he and one other man were pictured shirtless. A witness picked another man, but switched to Lindsey when told whom the victim had identified. He was convicted in March 1983 and sentenced to life in prison.

In September 2007, Lindsey won DNA testing and was exonerated of the crime. Even though he couldn't conclusively prove that he was innocent of the attempted rape charge, he argued that he should at least be paid for the time he would have been out on mandatory release. After perusing his petition to the Texas Supremes, the comptroller apparently had a change of heart, agreeing to cut Lindsey a check for $408,000, to go with about $1.8 million he already received from the state.

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­To all the People,


Please hear our story!


Four Native Americans were wrongfully convicted in 1994sixteen years ago and have, ever since then, been imprisoned in various diversefederal prisons – being switched from prison to prison about every 2 to 3 years. Further, although the four men are related,two brothers and two cousins, they are not housed in the same federal prison.


After reading the transcript of their trial, I concludedthat the defendants did not get due process and equal protection as constitutionallyrequired in a court of law. These four men are innocent.


The men were convicted of sexual assault of their nieces.  The only alleged evidence consisted ofstatements by the four children. The children had been taken out of their home,and manipulated, controlled, and brainwashed (a) by a social worker, Jean Brock, who had a motive of revenge,[1]  (b)by a foster mother who was motivated by then-current and anticipated financialbenefits,[2]  (c)by a therapist, whose techniques were dubious, and (d) by a guardian ad litem, who did not act in the best interestsof the children.


The medical evidence introduced by the prosecution can becharacterized as nothing but suspect – a smoke-screen. Doctors to whom thechildren were brought provided neither written reports to the defense counselnor photographs requisite to the colposcopic examinations the children weremade to endure.  At 4, 5, and 6 years ofage, the children were younger than the minimum of 13 years of age recommended inorder for colposcopy to be performed. 


Colposcopy is a technique using a camera and dyes on a vaginaand anus to determine whether there is evidence of sexual assault ormolestation.  In this case, the medicalprofessionals claimed that pictures were not taken.  It is likely that any pictures taken showednothing and were therefore withheld. 


The political history of Native Americans and the AmericanIndian Movement (AIM) played, and still does play, a significant role in thiscase.   It is well-documented in the literaturethat the U.S.government broke each and every treaty with the Indians since the 1800s: fromthe Fort Laramie Treaty with its ‘Bad Men’ clause to well into the 1900s.  Greed, inherent in Man, was the primary reasonthe treaties were broken. There were multi- millions of acres of Indian land tobe sold to the whites, i.e., Euro-Americans.  


As a result of the continuoustreaty violations, the Native Americans became egregiously disadvantaged and increasinglyimpoverished.  It was cultural genocideplanned, at one time or another, by every level of government from the Presidenton down.  




The government devastated the herds of buffalo and forcedthe Indians onto non-arable land.  Thegovernment removed Native children from their families in order to destroytheir familial and tribal identities. The government kept many children for years in either foster homes orboarding schools run by Catholic nuns and priests who zealously undertook toforce -- by punishment and threat -- the children to adopt catholicism.   Homevisits with parents were allowed maybe once or twice a year.  The government ordered the clergy to cut thechildren’s hair, the length of which has cultural significance.   The government ordered the Native childrento be forced – again under threat of physical punishment -- not to speak their triballanguage.   Any expression of Nativereligion was a target attracting extreme sanctions.


The object of these measures was to make the Indians intored Orio cookies, white on the inside and red on the outside, and inhumanelyresult in the children losing their identity as Indian children.   


Ever since the Westward Expansion and the Fort LaramieTreaty, the government has been trying to get rid of the Indians.  In South Dakota, where racial discrimination against theNative Americans has been intense and endemic, the expression ‘Kill an Indian,Get a Man” is still heard. 


In recent decades, particularly since the rise of the AIM in1973, the federal government has concertedly been trying to imprison healthyand outspoken Indians:   Get thepolitically active Indians out of the reservation, get them away from politicalactivism and into jail, where they would be powerless to do anything, powerlessto fight the ongoing corruption, powerless to ferret out the ongoing bribes,powerless to say anything about the ongoing racial discrimination, powerless tospeak out about the treaties being violated, powerless to interfere with anyknown corruption by government-appointed officials such as the Bureau of IndianAffairs, and powerless to challenge the sale of Indian reservation land rich inminerals, for example, uranium.  Massacres, massacres, mass arrests have been common.  On the day one of the men in this case wasarrested, the “government” simply walked into the tribal hall and arrested morethan 22 men, all for different alleged crimes.  Silencing red men was what it was all about.


In the ‘70s, specifically, a typeof Hatfield-McCoy feud arose.   The Rousefamily was against the sale of reservation land to potential white settlors.  The Cournoyers were paying off to buy votesto sell a considerable amount of acreage of the mineral-rich lands to whites,and  then pocketing the money that wassupposed to go to the tribe.  


In the ‘80s, allied with theCournoyers, the Archambeau family members both fire-bombed and shot into theRouse home.   One of the bullets justmissed the head of Sonya, one of the Rouses’ sisters.  No Archambeau was charged or prosecuted.   No BIA or FBI agent investigated.


In the ‘90s, Defendant DesmondRouse had been working at the casino.  Heand others became aware that money was being ripped of by the casinoexecutives, including the Cournoyers, and the BIA.  By June 1992, Desmond and others organized asit-in at the tribal headquarters.  Theirgoal was to change the administrative heads of the casino. The protesterswanted the casino money wasted by the administration to go to the children andelders to help with food, clothing and housing – that was the true motive for thisprotest action to speak out for the most vulnerable members of the tribe andbring about much needed change!


A significant by-product ofarresting the four Native American men in this case and falsely charging themwith crimes is the victimization of the children removed from the home andprepared for trial for 5-8 months later. Now adults, these children suffer not only from feelings of guilt forhaving testified negatively about their uncles but even more from feeling thatno




matter what they say they arenot believed by the court.  For instance,at the outset, the children denied that “anything happened.”  After months of threats and manipulation, they testified exactly as they wereinstructed to do.  On appeal of theiruncles’ convictions, the appellate panel, specifically outlining the“children’s story,” overturned the convictions and remanded for a newtrial.  The new trial neverhappened.  By 2001, having grown older,the children, who had been recanting their false testimony since 1996, werefinally testified again in court.  Againthe judge did not believe the children’s recantations.   Depressedand angry and fearful of whites and the courts, some of the children havebecome alcoholics and drug users.  One ofthese children in this case is so seriously depressed that he has become notonly a self-mutilator but has also seriously attempted suicide by slicing hiswrists.  


Arising out of the political eventsare the motives for political retaliation. The men wanted to clean up corruption!  No more bribes, no more selling thereservation to white settlers, no more stealing the people’s money, which theyso desperately needed to fix up their houses on the reservation.   Thefamily feud has continued to present-day and the Cournoyers have continued toaccumulate great wealth and the “benefits” of white society. 


Given that the four Native defendants were unable to afforddefense counsel or were essentially impoverished, the court-appointed defensecounsel who would have to appear continually before the judge who appointedthem.  For the sake of their professionalcareers, the appointed counsel were syncophantic and held closely to theirbosoms or chest hairs the code of silence of the legal and judicialcommunities.  Thus the incentive for thedefense counsel to remain ineffective. 


Although the charges against the four defendants were notcomplicated, the legal issues certainly were and required attorneys withexperience and competence! One lawyer had never had a trial, one had maybe hadone trial, another had maybe little more experience, and one, interestingly,was a retired judge.  Those counsel didnot conduct discovery; nor did they investigate motives; they did not callwitnesses they should have called; they ignored information about which thedefendants themselves told their respective counsel.


Some actions of the attorneys were overtly prejudicial totheir clients.  They missed statutorydeadlines for the filing of certain pleadings. As a result, the judge denied them permission to produce alternativeexplanations of the alleged sexual abuse.  One can conceive of one, perhaps even two, of the attorneys to missdeadlines, but all four attorneys to miss the deadlines!  Unlikely.  The attorneys refused to call witnesses whom the defendants believedwould testify on their behalf!  And whenthey did call certain people, the judge did not allow them to testify.


Further, to defend oneself, one must have the opportunity tocross-examine your accusers and to present your own witnesses.  The defense counsel failed both tocross-examine the prosecution witnesses and to present the defendants’ defenseadequately.   The only possible conclusion is that dueprocess and equal protection andfundamental fairness were absent in the criminal case against the fourindigenous Americans. 


May your life be blessed with happiness, love and good health.We need help from good people to stand up for justice for us, our families,children and all the People.

Very truly yours

JesseRouse                          Desmond Rouse

GarfieldFeather                                       Russell Hubbeling



[1]  The motive tomake in 1993-1994 false accusations against the four men arose out of an eventin June 1992, namely a sit-in at tribal headquarters.  The demonstrators were accusing tribal-casinoexecutives of embezzlement of casino revenue. 

[2]   Madonna “Donna” Jordan accepted18 children for foster care, treated the children cruelly if not inhumanely(making them bathe in rubbing alcohol). After the trial, Donna was rewarded by being quickly gotten out of Dodgeand set up in the hotel business in Branson, Missouri.

Kerry Max Cook
Kerry Max Cook

I am all about locking up those deemed guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of committingcrimes against society by use of reliable, credible, and honest evidence. I donot, however, believe in sacrificing the innocent to put away the guilty.

When prosecutors sworn to uphold the law, break the law, there are no more laws.These prosecutorial pathogens endemic to the wrongful conviction threaten todestroy the morality of our legal system, and undermine the notion of justiceand fairness.

My case and story shares eerie similarities to the current ongoing legal shenaniganswith that of John Bradley in the Williamson County, Texas case of MichaelMorton.

I am well versed on the subject of prosecutorial misconduct in Texas. In my memoir,CHASING JUSTICE, I detail a rich documented legal history of judiciallyacknowledged prosecutorial misconduct. It went on for 22-years.  Prosecutorial misconduct so pervasive, it infected every stage of the proceedings, from arrest to an indictment, a trial and a conviction and death row.

As my story and many others illustrate, some Texas prosecutors practice awin-at-all-cost mentality and justice doesn't even make a Texas courtroom as a spectator. Those who dispute this are simply ideologues, insulated, untouched by the same malevolent legal process that has victimized us.


Was reasonable doubt not on the books in 1982? What kind of lawyer tells his client to plead guilty when there's no physical evidence?

Chuck G.
Chuck G.

Wow. What a shitty (court-appointed) lawyer this guy unfortunately had.

Leonard Brown
Leonard Brown

Justice couldn't have happened to a better guy.  Go Johnnie, Go!


The kind of lawyer my godson has who plead and is serving 25 years because he was facing 100 years. DNA could prove right now he's innocent, but the neither the state nor his state appointed lawyer wants to do it. 

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

This was an alleged black-on-white crime. In Dallas. In 1982. Probably no coincidence that a disproportionate number of the exonerees are black.


The terrible, lazy kind?

Kerry Max Cook
Kerry Max Cook

I don't think that is true. Injustice in Texas is no longer a black, yellow white or brown thing. The color is a wrongful conviction is green, the color of money. Of those exonerated from death row, for instance, the ethnic ratio is more white over blacks.

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