LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A leader of a militia group could spend more than 20 years in prison.
On Friday, a federal jury convicted John “Grand Master Jay” Johnson of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers during the social justice protests in 2020.
Now, many are wondering how long he really could be facing.
“The rate in the U.S. District Court is not good for defendants, generally, the conviction rate exceeds 90%,” Thomas Clay, a Louisville attorney said.
Johnson is now part of that statistic.
He faced two counts after the indictment in December 2020. Also included in those charges was brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.
“There are basically three levels of punishment and the statute, level one is a misdemeanor, level two is up to eight years, he got the enhanced penalty of up to 20 years because this enhanced penalty requires whoever in the commercial acts described in subsection eight use a deadly or dangerous weapon," Clay said.
Clay said with the way the law is written, the presence of the firearm led to why prosecutors chose the most serious of possible charges.
Jeffersonville, Indiana attorney Larry Wilder says there is also another layer to that first count and that comes down to who was actually on the roof.
"You add the layer of the federal officers, you add the layer of the gun, and then it becomes the federal officer enhances it," Wilder said.
What happens when it comes to conviction?
Sixteen jurors were present all four days of the trial, hearing witnesses, being shown evidence and hearing testimony from Johnson.
The make of the jury was predominantly white, and lawyers said this isn’t necessarily uncommon for federal trials.
"Jefferson County, Kentucky, greater Louisville, there's a lot fewer minorities, there's a concentration. When you get to the federal courts, and the Federal District encompasses such a large area of a not so diverse state, then you're going to get a primarily white jury," Wilder said.
Both Wilder and Clay said it's not unusual for federal trials to pull outside of the county it's happening in, which then means a lesser chance of diversity in the jury.
For the sentencing both lawyers said it could be based on a number of factors like criminal history, employment status, among others.
"There's gonna be a lot of arguments that's going to be made to mitigate the potential sentence. And the judge has the ability to do that. We're seeing that in Washington, DC right now, with the insurrection, January 6, insurrection, prosecutions," Wilder said.
Clay noted it could be likely Johnson will see a minimum of seven years. With both counts together he is facing up to 27 years in prison.