Jury acquits former Law student of charges

Johnathan Perkins receives degree after fabricating story of police misconduct

After fabricating a story of police misconduct last March, former University Law student Johnathan Perkins was acquitted of honor charges this summer and received his law degree, which had previously been withheld.

Law School Dean Paul Mahoney said in an email that the school informed Perkins that it would provide a statement regarding the honor charges and underlying circumstances to any state bar to which he applies. Perkins is currently working as a legal intern in Lancaster, Pa.

Perkins, who is black, claimed in an April 22 letter to the editor of Virginia Law Weekly that he had been a victim of racial profiling in an encounter with University Police. He also sent a copy to University Police.

Perkins wrote that two University police officers mistreated him on the way home to his apartment on the Corner on the night of March 31, 2011.

Shortly after University Police completed an investigation of the incident, Perkins admitted in May that he fabricated the story in his letter.

"I wrote the article to bring attention to the topic of police misconduct," Perkins told University police in May, according to a press release. "The events in the article did not occur."

University Police chose not to press charges because it did not want to deter people from coming forward if they witnessed misconduct.

Mahoney said a member of the University community brought an honor charge against Perkins following his admission. He said the University withheld Perkins' degree pending his trial and he did not participate in the graduation ceremonies.

"Over the summer, Mr. Perkins went to trial before a jury of fellow students," Mahoney said. "He was acquitted and has received the degree that had been withheld."

Honor Committee Chair Ann Marie McKenzie said in an email that she could not discuss any specifics because the deliberations of any case are confidential. The Committee's by-laws instruct a jury to vote guilty if the three criteria of act, knowledge and significance have been met beyond a reasonable doubt.

"Anything less than beyond a reasonable doubt and the jury is instructed to vote not-guilty," McKenzie said.

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