The fallout from the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson case continues. Now, a member of that grand jury has filed a lawsuit against prosecutor Bob McCullough.
St. Louis Public Radio reports that the juror, identified only as “Grand Juror Doe” in the suit, wants the right to speak out about the way the case was presented to the grand jury. Typically, grand jurors are under a lifetime gag order, prohibiting them from talking about cases they hear as grand jury members.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court on January 5, with the help of the Missouri ACLU, asks the court to rule that laws criminalizing speech by grand jurors, regarding their grand jury experiences, are unconstitutional, as applied to this specific case.
Grand Juror Doe says the Wilson case was not handled in the same way as others.
Grand Juror Doe’s suit points out that the way the case was presented to the grand jury was different than the way other cases were presented, during his term, which began in May 2014. The lawsuit says the following:
In Plaintiff’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. Moreover, the public characterization of the grand jurors’ view of witnesses and evidence does not accord with Plaintiff’s own.
From Plaintiff’s perspective, the investigation of Wilson had a stronger focus on the victim than in other cases presented to the grand jury.
The lawsuit contends that, instead of asking the grand jury to charge Wilson for the death of Michael Brown, McCullough presented pages of evidence and testimony. The Washington Post describes the grand jury as being treated like “co-investigators.” The Post observes that this was different from normal grand jury proceedings, in which the prosecutor typically asks the grand jury to indict a defendant on a particular charge, or group of charges. In addition, the suit says, “Plaintiff’s impression that evidence was presented differently than in other cases, with the insinuation that Brown, not Wilson, was the wrongdoer.”
Since the grand jury decision was issued, on November 24, prosecutor McCullough has done a number of interviews presenting his side of the case. McCullough has said that some of the witnesses lied to the grand jury, but that the jurors were aware they were lying. Thanks to the gag law on grand jurors, the 12 people who could confirm or refute that statement are not allowed to talk about it. Grand Juror Doe’s suit seeks to change that.
The lawsuit says that the heavily redacted documents released to the public by the prosecutor’s office do not tell the whole story.
From Plaintiff’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.
At the current time, McCullough’s office has issued no statement on the suit. According to St. Louis Public Radio, a McCullough spokesman said that the prosecutor had not yet been served with the suit, so he could not comment on it.
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