Ferguson Grand Jury Member Sues Prosecuting Attorney over First Amendment Rights

WASHINGTON — A member of the grand jury that ultimately decided not to indict former Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown is suing the prosecuting attorney in St. Louis County, accusing Robert McCulloch of mischaracterizing the grand jury process.

The still-anonymous grand juror, referred to only as “Grand Juror Doe” in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, believes that his or her voice “could contribute to the current public dialogue concerning race relations” in the country. The grand juror believes that the Wilson case was handled much differently than the hundreds of other cases presented to the grand jury before the Wilson case.

“From Plaintiff’s perspective, the presentation of evidence to the grand jury investigating Wilson differed markedly and in significant ways from how evidence was presented in the hundreds of matters presented to the grand jury earlier in its term,” the lawsuit stated. The grand juror believes that the portrayal of the case in the media has not been accurate.

“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,” the lawsuit stated. “Moreover, the public characterization of the grand jurors’ view of witnesses and evidence does not accord with Plaintiff’s own.”

The ACLU said the “life-time gag order” against grand jurors in the case is not fair in the Wilson case because of the extraordinary publicity Brown’s death received and the strange way the case was presented.

“The Supreme Court has said that grand jury secrecy must be weighed against the juror’s First Amendment rights on a case-by-case basis,” ACLU of Missouri Legal Director Tony Rothert said in a statement. “The rules of secrecy must yield because this is a highly unusual circumstance. The First Amendment prevents the state from imposing a life-time gag order in cases where the prosecuting attorney has purported to be transparent.”




Author: spirit

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