Hogan Lovells Secures Exoneration for Man Wrongly Convicted of Sexual Assault

WASHINGTON, D.C. 31 December 2013 – Hogan Lovells Northern Virginia partner Jon Talotta, along with a team of associates from the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC, offices, secured a Writ of Actual Innocence from the Virginia Court of Appeals in the case of Johnathan Montgomery, fully exonerating him of a sexual assault conviction that he did not commit and that never actually occurred. In addition to the Hogan Lovells team, Talotta was joined by lawyers from the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project on this pro bono case.

“We are thrilled that Mr. Montgomery has finally been exonerated,” said Talotta, who argued the case for Mr. Montgomery. “Securing the petition of actual innocence will allow him to celebrate the holidays with his family as a free man.”

A three-judge panel of the court unanimously granted Montgomery's petition on 20 December, saying there was no evidence to support his conviction after his accuser admitted that she fabricated the story. Montgomery’s exoneration comes four months after the alleged victim in the case was convicted and sentenced for perjuring herself at his 2008 trial when she testified that Montgomery had sexually assaulted her.

The alleged victim in the case, Elizabeth Coast, recanted her testimony in October of 2012 to a friend who worked with her at the Hampton Police Department. Based on that conversation, police and prosecutors interviewed Coast and found her credible, and she was charged with perjury. Montgomery was registered as a sex offender since his conditional pardon more than a year ago, which means that he has been unable to find a job or visit his family without obtaining permission. With the issuance of the Writ, those restrictions will be lifted.

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