Member of Ferguson Grand Jury Suing To Be Allowed To Speak Out On How McCulloch Mischaracterized The Case

There have been multiple irregularities in the grand jury proceedings regarding Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown when both eye witnesses and forensic evidence suggest he was attempting to surrender. The case was handled improperly in order to protect Wilson from facing a fair trial, with the prosecutor essentially acting as the defense for Darren Wilson. There were also irregularities in how the evidence was handled and in the directions given to members of the grand jury. Prosecutor Robert McCulloch  has admitted to using testimony from people he knew were lying in defense of Wilson.

It is important in a case such as this for there to be a fair and open trial, in which the evidence can be reviewed,  witnesses are cross examined, and there is public record of the proceedings. Following all the irregularities in the Ferguson case, we now have a member of the grand jury who is suing to be allowed to talk about the hearing, stating that McCulloch has misled the public about the case:

The grand juror, referred to only as “Grand Juror Doe” in the lawsuit, takes issue with how McCulloch characterized the case. McCulloch released evidence presented to the grand jury and publicly discussed the case after the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, then a Ferguson police officer, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American.

“In [the grand juror]’s view, the current information available about the grand jurors’ views is not entirely accurate — especially the implication that all grand jurors believed that there was no support for any charges,” the lawsuit says. “Moreover, the public characterization of the grand jurors’ view of witnesses and evidence does not accord with [Doe]’s own.”

“From [the grand juror]’s perspective, the investigation of Wilson had a stronger focus on the victim than in other cases presented to the grand jury,” the lawsuit states. Doe also believes the legal standards were conveyed in a “muddled” and “untimely” manner to the grand jury.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in federal court, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri argues that this case is unique and that the usual reasons for requiring the jurors to maintain secrecy should not apply.

In this specific case, “any interests furthered by maintaining grand jury secrecy are outweighed by the interests secured by the First Amendment,” the lawsuit says, adding that allowing the juror to speak would contribute to a discussion on race in America.

As the grand juror points out in the lawsuit, the Wilson case was handled in a very different manner than other grand juries. Instead of recommending a charge, McCulloch’s office presented thousands of pages worth of evidence and testimony before the grand jury. At one point, McCulloch’s spokesman characterized the grand jury as co-investigators.

“From [Doe]’s perspective, although the release of a large number of records provides an appearance of transparency, with heavy redactions and the absence of context, those records do not fully portray the proceedings before the grand jury,” the lawsuit says.

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4 Comments

  1. 1
    David Duff says:

    “A member”!  That would be one member! One out of … how many?  So why should anyone give him/her the time of day?

    And why, if the procedure was so atrocious has your Knight in shining armour, Eric the not-so-brave Holder, not ridden to the rescue with the massed ranks of the (in)Justice Department?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    There was already plenty of evidence that the system was abused in how the grand jury was handled. Why are you afraid to have more evidence come out and hear what a member has to say?

    It is hard for Justice Department to get involved as the primary problem is a state and not a federal matter. They could get involved on civil rights issues but the legal standards there are much higher than for indicting Wilson. It still remains possible that the Justice Department will ultimately get involved. It also remains possible with all the evidence of the abuses of the grand jury system that a new grand jury will be called and Wilson will get indicted. It would make more sense for the Justice Department to give this more time to play out.

  3. 3
    JimZ says:

    As the evidence has unfolded as to this particular grand jury process, it has been breathtaking how incompetent – or more likely – corrupt, it was.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Jim,

    Definitely corrupt, not incompetent. I’m sure McCulloch knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted to conduct the grand jury in a manner which would reach a decision not to indict (essentially the opposite of how prosecutors go before grand juries in cases not involving police). He presented the evidence, even when it would not normally be admissible, in a manner which led the grand jury to come to the decision he wanted. Similarly the police who mishandled the evidence knew what they were doing in making it harder to get a conviction should Wilson go to trial.

    The only areas where McCulloch might be called incompetent were beyond the grand jury hearing, such as in failing to predict how much scrutiny this would receive. However this is understandable as McCulloch’s actions to protect the police are the norm in police shootings and so far prosecutors have always gotten away with it. It is also doubtful that an elected judge in a state as racist as Missouri will take action against him.

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