CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the first inmate to be exonerated of a crime in Wyoming as a result of DNA testing.
U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled the claims brought by Andrew Johnson were similar to those he’d made in unsuccessful lawsuits before his exoneration. A case can’t be re-litigated once judged on its merits, Skavdahl pointed out in his ruling Tuesday.
“Plaintiff’s claims were, or could have been, the subject of previously issued final judgments from this same district court,” Skavdahl wrote. “Therefore, his present action is barred.”
Skavdahl described Johnson’s conviction and imprisonment as “unfortunate.” His attorneys responded to the ruling by filing a request for the judgments in Johnson’s earlier lawsuits, which were filed in the 1990s, to be vacated, or set aside.
Johnson served nearly 24 years in prison after being convicted in 1989 for sexually assaulting a woman and burglarizing her home. Decades later, DNA testing found a match for the woman’s fiance but not Johnson, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/2u8oWxa).
Prosecutors dropped the charges and Johnson was released in 2013.
Johnson sued the city of Cheyenne and two police officers in April. He alleged the police investigation damaged his life, well-being and ability to get a job.
Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com