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Michael Johnson Conviction Reversed

The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP), a national legal resource and advocacy center, announced that the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, reversed the conviction of Michael Johnson and remanded his case for a new trial. Concerning the decision, Johnson’s appellate attorney, Samuel Buffaloe, stated, “This is a tremendous decision from the Eastern District Court of Appeals. I am very happy for Michael and look forward to justice for him.”

Johnson was a student-athlete at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, a St. Louis suburb, until his arrest in 2013. He was convicted of one count of recklessly infecting another with HIV, and four counts alleging he exposed or tried to expose others. Prosecutors argued Johnson knew he was HIV positive and lied to sexual partners.

The court reversed the judgment of the trial court based on the state’s failure to comply with Johnson’s discovery request, in violation of Rule 25.03, resulting in the untimely introduction of evidence that prevented Johnson from preparing a meaningful defense in the case. In the words of the Court, “the State’s violation of Rule 25.03 was knowing and intentional and was part of a trial-by-ambush strategy that this Court does not condone and that Rule 25.03 was specifically designed to avoid.”

CHLP’s Deputy Director Mayo Schreiber said, “This is a terrific first step towards justice for Michael. We will continue to fight for Michael and work to overturn Missouri’s and other states’ irrational and discriminatory HIV exposure laws.”

In the appeal of his conviction, Johnson raised two points. First, that the trial court allowed evidence to be introduced late – the first day of the trial – denying him the fair opportunity to prepare his defense. And second, that his sentence of 30 years for violating Missouri’s HIV transmission and exposure statute violated the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments.

@HIVLawAndPolicy.org

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Point Foundation Community College Scholarship 2017

Nearly half of the nation’s undergraduate students are enrolled at community colleges, which are an increasingly important springboard for advancing to a bachelor’s degree. To help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) students transfer to a four-year degree program, Point Foundation (Point) welcomes applications for its Community College Scholarship.

Students selected for the program will receive up to a $3,700 financial award, opportunities to network with the Point community, and the opportunity to attend the Point Community College Transfer Symposium in Los Angeles.  Applications are accepted online beginning March 1.

“Affordability is only one of the roadblocks to a college degree,” said Jorge Valencia, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Point Foundation. “LGBTQ students, particularly those from low-income families, immigrants, and people of color, often feel alone as they try to navigate a path to higher education. Point’s goal is to provide LGBTQ students practical guidance and the emotional support that comes from knowing people want them to succeed and are here to help.”

@PointFoundation.org/CommunityCollege
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GLAAD Launches Glaadgrants to Amplify Diverse Voices from the LGBTQ Community

GLAAD, the world’s LGBTQ media advocacy organization, has launched the Glaadgrants program to provide completion funding and professional mentorships to content creators for in-progress works that advance GLAAD’s mission of amplifying diverse voices from the LGBTQ community. This comes as part of GLAAD’s goal to develop a pipeline of talented LGBTQ content creators that can move into the mainstream of Hollywood and be top of mind for the entertainment industry.

“Our vision is to support and inspire content creators to tell stories that accelerate acceptance of LGBTQ people here at home and around the world,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “With a special emphasis on under-represented LGBTQ people, GLAAD’s work empowers real people to tell stories and amplify their voices, and Glaad grants is our latest initiative towards that goal.”

According to GLAAD’s 2016 Studio Responsibility Index, only 17.5% of all major film studio releases in 2015 included LGBTQ-identified characters, with decreased racial diversity over the preceding year. And of the 895 series regular characters expected to appear on broadcast primetime programming within the 2016-2017 season, according to GLAAD’s most recent Where We Are On TV Report, only 4.8% were counted as LGBTQ.

This new initiative was established to ensure that innovative and creative LGBTQ stories in entertainment media are supported with needed funding. Additionally, creators of short or long form, scripted or documentary, digital or film content will have guidance from experienced and professional mentors, all in an effort to help them share their vision.

To complement completion funding, mentorships will provide an opportunity for knowledge, experience, and support to be provided by experienced and successful media professionals promoting best practices of quality filmmaking and digital storytelling through peer-to-peer support, ultimately enhancing the quality of the grant-recipient’s production.

Those interested in applying can visit glaad.org/grants to learn about submission and application guidelines. The deadline for entries to be received is 5:00 p.m. PT, on Friday, March 24th, 2017.