United States v. Johnson

Judge Matey aptly described this as the “Case of the False Praecipe”. The Third Circuit dipped a toe into the Cosby saga and vacated the defendant’s conviction for making false statements. The defendant became obsessed with Bill Cosby and decided to go to the entertainer’s defense. The defendant emailed Andrea Constand’s civil attorney and threatened to release Ms. Constand’s residential address. He also attached an unsigned Internal Revenue Service “Information Referral” form, alleging that she failed to report income derived from “baseless lawsuits” premised “on a decade-old campaign of . . . false allegations.” Later, the defendant went to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s clerk’s office with that IRS document and managed to file it on Ms. Constand’s case. When her attorney received an email from the clerk’s office confirming the filing, the attorney had the District Court remove the letter from the docket. The FBI investigated and established that the defendant was the culprit who filed the document. A jury convicted him of false statements. The Third Circuit vacated, holding that the evidence was insufficient because the Government “offered no evidence and elicited no testimony from the only individual it proposed as the government decisionmaker—the judge in the underlying litigation—to explain how the filing could influence a judicial decision”.

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