Trusted trial counsel in heart of Brooklyn and Upper Manhattan
Stoll Glickman & Bellina Logo

Grand Jury Follies, Cop Indictment Style Ep. 2-Ferguson

In Part I, we spoke about the fix in Cuyahoga County.  Today, let’s take a look at the circus of St. Louis County, Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch’s Grand Jury presentment against Officer Darrell Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown.

The Grand Jury is a prosecutor’s show.  The goal of the district attorney in the grand jury is to secure an indictment, so that the accused can then be prosecuted for a felony. If the DA doesn’t think there’s probable cause that the person committed a felony, then the DA has no business bringing the case before a grand jury.

Grand jurors are ordinary citizens, and since in many states you can’t serve on a jury if you have been convicted of a felony, they are citizens with no experience with criminal cases and the criminal justice system.  In criminal trials, one reason we have lawyers is precisely because the newbies need to be led through the evidence.  In a grand jury, where the prosecutor is trying to get an indictment (except in cop cases), it is his or her job to walk the jurors through the evidence that he believes form probable cause to charge the defendant.  Unfortunately, that did not happen in the Officer Wilson Grand Jury proceeding.

Instead, there was an evidence dump.  The St. Louis County Prosecutor’s office didn’t so much “present” the case to the Grand Jury; it was more like he backed up a sanitation truck into the room and dumped the contents on them.  Documents, witnesses, expert reports, everything.

We know that when 10 witnesses come forward, 5 will corroborate the truth accurately, 3 will be confused about what they saw, and 2 wouldn’t have even seen the incident but are enjoying all the attention.  There will always be conflict between people witnessing the very same event.  That’s why prosecutor’s generally only put the “star” witness into the grand jury.  It may be counter-intuitive, one may think that the more people who corroborate a particular version of facts, the stronger the case will be.  But trial lawyers know that witnesses almost always give conflicting accounts, in small ways and often large, so it’s not worth the risk of piling on witnesses, lest they all look like liars.

Yet, this is what DA McCulloch did in St. Louis. He even put entirely implausible, non-credible “witnesses” in the grand jury to testify. The vast, unintelligible evidence engendered nothing but confusion and doubt in the grand jurors, and, as expected, they did not indict.  Which make no mistake, was the plan all along.

As in Cleveland, McCulloch didn’t treat the case equally with other cases – at all.  McCulloch sought out a non-indictment and got it.  The insult to injury here is that rather than simply taking the responsibility for not prosecuting Officer Wilson, he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax payer money on a rigged kangaroo court to put the blame on the grand jurors.  Shameful.

Founding partner Leo Glickman has a long track record of holding the powerful accountable and fighting for progressive candidates and causes. Mr. Glickman represents candidates for Statewide and Citywide offices as well as many candidates for local legislative positions.

Leave a Reply

*