The National Bar Association (NBA) criticizes decisions made my the prosecution
Pamela Meanes, President of the NBA, said in an interview with Here and Now:
When you think about a grand jury process, that process is not a jury trial. It is an audience for — similar to the preliminary hearing before the judge, is an audience for the prosecutor to present a case that says ‘we believe is worthy of indictment, here’s the evidence that proves that.’ And it’s a solid airtight case because the evidence is really controlled by the prosecutor. That’s not to say that the grand jury can’t ask for witnesses or ask questions, but typically the prosecutor controls the process. Typically a defendant doesn’t testify in that proceeding because the prosecutor’s main goal as the advocate for the state is to administer justice and to get a charge, otherwise he wouldn’t be bringing it before the grand jury.
Meanes went on to explain why putting Wilson on the stand was rare:
It’s highly unusual in this because in a grand jury proceeding, your attorney is not allowed to go into the room with you, which means you’re giving up your constitutional right to right of counsel. Your counsel can be outside of the room, so that means statements and everything you say can be held against you. That’s why most defendants don’t testify in a grand jury proceeding because you don’t want to do anything to incriminate yourself.
Another mistake lawyers are critical of is the presentation of all evidence in court, including the defense’s witnesses. If the prosecuting attorney were serious about bringing an indictment they would have followed the general rule of controlling the trial.
Meanes also said:
I love cross-examination because you can make your case with their witness and it appears to me it was very strange that his side of the story was given in a way that wasn’t challenged, didn’t appear to be challenged at all.
Going through witness testimony one might have to agree. Although witnesses were scrutinized, the prosecution seems to take Wilson’s testimony at face value, with very little reclarification.
Susan McGraugh, supervisor of the Criminal Defense Clinic at the Saint Louis University School of Law, said all the exceptions to the norm appear to be heightening tensions among residents, particularly among racial minorities who believe they’re treated differently by police.
The police officer is ‘getting a whole special grand jury process,’ McGraugh said. ‘I think it really adds to the consternation ? you know, the frustration ? that people are feeling.’
In the coming weeks St. Louis County Prosecutor, Bob McCullough, has some ‘splaining to do.