NEWS (2/16/21) — Pennsylvania: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has reinstated death-row exoneree Roderick Johnson’s lawsuit seeking damages for his placement in solitary confinement for almost twenty years. Johnson was sentenced to death in 1998 in Berks County, Pennsylvania. He was not released from solitary confinement on death row even after his conviction and sentence had been vacated, and the government was contesting his entitlement to a new trial. The appeals court concluded that the district court had erred in dismissing Johnson’s due process claim, reaffirming its earlier holding that “inmates on death row whose death sentences have been vacated have a due process right to avoid continued placement in solitary confinement.”

Johnson was freed in 2020 after a trial court barred his retrial because of “egregious” prosecutorial misconduct. His lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections can still go forward as he is seeking monetary damages, a declaratory judgment that the state violated his constitutional rights, and lifetime therapy.