The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

On the Ferguson Grand Jury


Grand Jury proceedings are secret.
Plainfielders who have been following the news about the grand jury called in regard to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in August will no doubt find the outcome troubling and disappointing.

The New York Times reports in considerable detail on the grand jury process and outcome (see here), and includes a link to the documentation being released to the public (see here).

One of the questions on many people's minds was why the grand jury took so long. The Times reveals that the 12-person grand jury met 25 times, hearing 70 hours of testimony and viewing hundreds of exhibits and was only ready to begin deliberations on Friday afternoon.

You can count me among those who think the St. Louis County Prosecutor punted in the case.

Typically, a prosecutor presents just enough evidence to convince a jury that there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. It is left to the criminal trial process to sort out all the facts and for a petit jury to render a verdict on the facts and the law.

Prosecutor McCulloch, in my opinion, short-circuited that process by conducting what was essentially a one-sided trial, out of the public's view, in a secret proceeding.

A criminal trial is an open and adversarial proceeding, where we believe a judge and jury work together to ascertain the facts of the case, the applicable law and whether the prosecution has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Only the prosecutor presents material before a grand jury. There is no 'other' side. The grand jury works in secret; there is no public airing of the prosecutor's evidence and arguments. Further, the grand jury has a variety of options in a case where a homicide is being considered -- everything from a justified homicide up to and including a felony murder charge. All of this has been sidestepped here.

The impression remains that we still have a dual standard of justice despite decades of trying to move forward.

This is not acceptable -- in Ferguson or elsewhere.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

This grand jury was convened for political reasons. It was so supercharged with racial overtones the prosecutor did what he had to and presented all of the evidence that came to light and let the jurors wade through it all which this their task.
Everyone has to remember that if Michael Brown had not stolen items causing the shop owner he strong-armed to call the police with his description we wouldn't be where we are today. He made things worse taunting the police by walking down the middle of the street and refusing to get on the sidewalk - pedestrian territory. Then he literally strikes a further blow by punching the cop who now had his description from the theft. But everyone is blaming the system and "white racism" for the outcome. Respect the law and the criminal justice system people. This did not have to happen.

Anonymous said...

Don't attack a police office, grab for his gun or charge at him. Those things can get you killed. D'oh.

Anonymous said...

When testimony from multiple witnesses is made and their stories are different, it places the "reasonable doubt" in the minds of jurors. Had there been an indictment, the obvious verdict would lead to a not guilty verdict or hung jury.

Anonymous said...

And the liberal race baiting NYT just published the address of the cop who was exonerated. Blood all over your hands and the NYT and anyone else who is a racist rable rouser.

Good going morons.

Honestly, I don't know why I reply to your race baiting blog. I guess it's to show you what a fucking racist moron you are. Then again, you hang on MSLSD's word and the NYT, which has NO CREDITIBILTY.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line Dan justice was served

Mrs D said...

I seldom make on-line comments, but Dan, I agree with you wholeheartedly. What a grave miscarriage of justice occurred as a result of the prosecutor's handling of this case. We all can go on and on about what could have and should have been done, but my prayer is that this travesty will be deemed a truly teachable moment. Any similar debacle that transpires in the future will heap more and more SHAME on every person who perpetrates such egregious injustice. Stephanie DeGeneste, MS Ed.