Full text of letter in support of leniency for Marc Henry Johnson

07 Aug
August 7, 2017

Here is a letter written in support of leniency for Marc Henry Johnson, a fellow producer on “The Deuce” who was involved in the tragic overdose death of a woman in New York last year. The letter was written to the sentencing judge and is part of the court record, and I post it here out of concern that certain news outlets, including the New York tabloids — which did a poor and imprecise job of covering the original incident — are now quoting it piecemeal. As it is addressed to a presiding court, it would be inappropriate to comment beyond the letter itself, but I am going to link to it here so that a full, contextualized argument is available to those concerned or curious about my reasoning:

MHJ Letter Final July 2017 updated

6 replies
  1. Jean F says:

    Up here, the paramedics wave off the police when they show up to 911 overdose calls if there is no death involved. If there is, those who make the call are not charged with a crime.

    When Prince died alone in an elevator in his home the Chanhassen, police tried like crazy to make it someone else’s fault, but you can’t do that here. It is because of the number of opiate deaths that these protections were implemented. Addiction is an equal opportunity disease; you may be rich or poor, famous or infamous. The overdoses and deaths are ugly, unstoppable, and tragic. But when there is a chance to save a life, don’t shoot the messenger even if he’s wasted too.

    Less than a week earlier Prince got a save shot in the back of an ambulance after someone landed his private plane mid-flight in a small town in IA. He went quietly to a hospital overnight, refused treatment, and left the next day.

    You can’t stop an addict, but you may try. DS, yours is a hideous situation in which a man did the right thing and is being punished for the other addict’s choices. Being in the throes of his own addiction doesn’t make him a criminal. He did the right thing.

    Society wants to blame those they deem sinners, but there’s no hierarchy of sin in God’s eye. I’ve always felt these matters place us humans at the intersection of two kinds of justice: Biblical and Legal. They’re not the same thing.

    Glad he’s getting well. Great letter DS, I hope it helps somehow.

    With love from the Land of 10,000 Lakes and 12 Steps

  2. Brendan says:

    David –

    After reading your letter twice, it’s apparent to me that your motivation isn’t to support your work collegeue — but to use the situation to further push your agenda of wanting judges & juries to alter how they control the drug war. Am I wrong?

    I wonder…if your son, daughter, or wife had been “partying” that night with Mr. Johnson and had met the same fate as Dr. Cerveny, would you have written a letter to the judge asking for leniency?

    • David Simon says:

      Yes. Unequivocally.

    • Andrew Bryan Smith says:

      My younger brother died from an OD. After ODing many times and recovering. With a friend who’d never used before but knew my brother’s history in detail.

      I hugged him at the funeral. I told him he was probably carrying a lot of guilt, but he should put it down, a piece at a time, till it was gone.

      My brother did it to himself. If his friend used again, he’d be doing it to himself. You don’t go to meetings to quit using, I told my brother once. The only way to quit using is to quit using.

      You go to meetings to stop lying.

  3. Kim says:

    I appreciate this letter, the sentiments it contains, and the reflection of your own integrity and analysis on this subject. News coverage had not reached me here in Oz, but now being aware of this prosecution I have more context for the large number of news stories I am seeing from America about drug overdoses. I pray your letter is effective.


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