Legal Scholars Praise Ferguson Grand Jury for Fairness Beyond the Norm

Kellan Howell, Washington Times, November 25, 2014

Legal experts across the country agree that while the process that led to a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was unusual, it was not unfair. Rather if it was anything unusual, it was in its fairness and openness.

Lawyers and academics told The Washington Times that, despite their personal opinions on the case, which has sparked riots over police brutality, St. Louis county prosecutor Robert McCulloch sought unbiased justice in presenting the jury with every piece of evidence and then making that evidence public.

“It was the most thorough grand jury investigation that I’ve ever heard of,” said Stephen Saltzburg, a professor of law at George Washington University Law School.

Media outlets and supporters of Mr. Brown have said that Mr. McCulloch’s prosecution was unusual because he did not go in with the goal of seeking an indictment in secret, as most prosecutors do.

But Richard Kelsey, assistant dean for management and planning at George Mason University law school, said that what makes this case more unusual is that Mr. McCulloch sought justice rather than an indictment.

“More recently everyone has head the statement that ‘a good prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich,’” Mr. Kelsey said. “It is true that it is usually easy to get an indictment, but is that a just process? I would say no.”

Legal scholars say that Mr. McCulloch’s decision to release the evidence presented to the grand jury for public scrutiny was also unprecedented, since grand-jury hearings are usually shrouded in secrecy, both while going on and after the fact.

“Usually you don’t hear what evidence they considered,” Mr. Saltzburg said. “I give the prosecutor top marks in terms of transparency and accountability.”

The Brown family and their supporters argue that if the prosecutor had championed harder for an indictment, a full trial could have led to a conviction. But lawyers say in this case, a strong push to indict Officer Wilson merely based on the easier legal standard of “probable cause” would have merely set up a trial where the prosecution likely would have failed to get a guilty verdict based on the much stiffer “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.

{snip}

Lawyers say in general, grand jury cases are subject to pro-prosecution bias because a district attorney will try to summarize their case to obtain an indictment, possibly hiding some of the evidence. Meanwhile, the accused has no right to an attorney, to present evidence on his behalf, or even to know that his indictment is being considered.

{snip}

Criminal defense attorney Guy Fronstein agreed that there is an “incestuous” relationship between prosecutors and police in grand jury proceedings but admitted that in this case that relationship did not impede justice.

“The grand jury system is a one-sided Kangaroo Court, which virutally always indicts since jurors hear the prosecutor’s version of events and rule without having ever heard from the defense,” Mr. Fronstein said.

“However, due to the brotherhood between prosecutors and police officers, when a police officer is the target of a prosecutor’s case, it is almost predetermined that the officer will not be indicted. The incestuous relationship between prosecutors and officers did not come into play in Ferguson because there simply was not enough evidence for the grand jury to find probable cause that Officer Wilson committed a crime; the grand jury got it right,” he said.

{snip}

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  • This grand jury was also a de facto Federal grand jury and a criminal trial. It was so thorough that the case is truly closed insofar as the legal system goes.

    Criminal defense attorney Guy Fronstein agreed that there is an “incestuous” relationship between prosecutors and police in grand jury proceedings

    Gee, who would have ever guessed that prosecutors and cops have a good working relationship? Shouldn’t they? I mean, how screwed up would things be if they didn’t?

    • The Verdict of History

      I actually thought that the Grand Jury would yeild to the mass hysteria and mob coercion which has surrounded this ordeal.

      Plaudits to the Jury for withstanding the unprecedented popular pressure…

      Basic lessons from Ferguson:

      1. Dont grab a police officer’s weapon when he gives you a direct (and reasonable) order.

      2. Recognize the dangerous power of ideologically-motivated narrative. The rage in Ferguson arose from false belief in a fanciful roamer – one which reduces the world to cartoonish stock characters.

      According to this narrative, the world is filled with white killer-cops and black gentle giants.

      Belief in this narrative is immune to all evidence which controvenes it.

      3. Another take-away is the inherent falibility of eyewitness evidence, in general.

      • Adolf Verloc

        My thoughts exactly, TVOH. I failed to give the black jurors credit for independent thinking and moral judgment. I thought we would wind up with a 9-3 no-bill or a unanimous indictment for involuntary manslaughter. All the jurors deserve our praise for making the right decision and sticking to it despite incredible pressure. It is sad to have to say it, but just doing the right thing on a grand jury or trial jury is as potentially dangerous today as it was in the days of Al Capone.

      • Sick of it

        I’ve been around black people my entire life and have never known a single gentle giant among them. A few decent guys, but gentle? Uh yeah, racial differences pretty well make that impossible.

    • Paleoconn

      Good point, and an odd choice of words to use (‘incestuous’). Prosecutors and police work to put criminals away, nothing incestuous there.

      Btw they don’t have a civil case against Officer Wilson, either. Preponderance of evidence is clearly in his favor.

      • none of your business

        Isn’t the relationship between criminals and their defense attorneys incestuous as well?

        • Paleoconn

          That relationship is just crooked and evil. Defense lawyers are scumbags. Most lawyers are, in fact. They are the plague of this once-great nation.

  • superlloyd

    “It was the most thorough grand jury investigation that I’ve ever heard of,”

    It had to be as it was put under the most intense political and media scrutiny ever. Even though the bantus and libtards couldn’t care less about impartiality, comprehensiveness and due process.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    Sadly the facts in this case will mean nothing to Browns family, relatives and friends who long ago convicted the officer of murder. The concept of due process was completely lost to them. Feelings of sympathy for these people is fast evaporating and the gulf between black and white just opened further.

    • Adolf Verloc

      If I were the fambly, I’d be selling those tee shirts as fast as I could. The clock on that 15 minutes of fame is ticking.

  • dd121

    This isn’t about fairness or law. It’s about the left cultivating the notion of black victimhood that seems to be eternal. It gets the darkies to vote 99% in favor of democrats but my god look at the price we all pay.

  • dd121

    What could possibly honor the fallen Michael Brown more than stealing 50 pairs of shoes and burning down your cities business district.

  • laatmijbinnen

    I already encountered several race hustlers who see the (“unusual”) extensiveness of the investigation as yet another proof of “racism” – claiming that a Black cop would never get such a thorough investigation.

    You really can’t make it up…

  • ghettovalley

    This is all just evil cracker propaganda. You have been misled by the white man.

  • Garrett Brown

    You know there could be no dispute of the evidence when the prosecutors themselves wanted to ruin that white man’s life. They were obviously disappointed they couldn’t find anything, no matter months of intensely searching to indict Wilson.

    I thought they actually would indict him no matter the evidence because of the demographic of the staff doing the investigation. I was extremely surprised.

    • none of your business

      You mean the vast over representation of blacks in government work of any kind?

  • Yancy Derringer

    Today’s New York Times editorial would have one believe that McCullough did everything he could think of to bend the will of the grand jury into no indictment. Their arguments are tortured and feeble, and they offer no legal basis for their validity. One would have to be fully unfamiliar with the purpose and procedures of grand juries to even consider buying into the Times’ charges of wholesale bias, but I suppose that’s exactly what the Times wàs cynically counting on.

    Once an exemplar of objectivity, the Times has been remade into just another strident leftwing voice among the many throughout the media landscape. What a shame.

    • John

      “Once an exemplar of objectivity, the Times has been remade…” Sorry to burst your bubble but the Times has not been “an exemplar of objectivity” since the paper was bought by the Ochs family in the late 1890s. The Tomato Bubble web site puts out a daily “Anti New York Times” web page daily that debunks their latest bit of misinformation. Google “A History Lesson: NY Times and World Wars” and “1940: New World Order Pledged to Jews” for two good examples of the Bubble’s publications and the Times lack of objectivity going back to before WWI.

    • none of your business

      When was the NYSlimes ever objective?

  • M&S

    Steins and Burgs = Guess Who Hebrew? The culture of critique, at it again. Inventing phantasms to justify their ‘but just they other day, something bad DID happen, honest!’ lack of a leg to stand on.
    Always the first stop after a defeat is the Jew Legal Left when it comes to defending a vile agenda by spinning another humiliatingly shameful attempt to ‘get even’ into past bad acts that ALSO have no proof as justifiable cause.

    Rather than acknowledge the obvious which is that blacks in this country have so much power that YET AGAIN what should have been an open and shut case of Darwin Award stupidity has instead required an ‘investigation and Grand Jury proceedings’ by which to pacify and appease black tantruming.
    We have oily malice masquerading as suave good humor.

    And it’s all so studied as to be repulsive, like serpents raising their heads to the sun.

    The throwing open of the Grand Jury testimony has left the Liberals Livin’ Large And In Charge to acknowledge ‘fair play, ruined our day’ but nobody understands that when you are down to having to fake a reason to have a Grand Jury (_nothing_ in the witness testimony or forensics supported it and the prosecutor has total discretion on whether to bring charges), you are already playing by the other side’s rules.
    How does it matter? In another part of the country, a ‘justifiable suspicion’ indictment would have cost a man with a pregnant wife his job, the Ferguson PD promised as much.
    In another part of the country, a liberal prosecutor has already not merely disregarded evidence but _made it up_ in trying to hang out the Duke Lacrosse Team and George ZImmerman. And succeeded in letting the Jenna Six get away with a random act of attempted murder, because the white kid lived.
    When whites have to prove everything and blacks are accountable for nothing, the real liberals should be demanding equality of legal standing as the revelation of decades of criminal statistics supporting black predatory psychology and white victimization shows that blacks have no fear of what frustrates them.
    Instead, these Jewish lawyers mutter and shake their heads with what amounts to a ‘Good Game!’ attempt at making it sound like a sport.
    It has never been such. It has always been about racial annihilation by a small but determined predatory population minority who fool the stupid, intimidate the uncertain and have only the worst in mind for whites.
    Them and their black Dobermans both.

  • See The Future

    The talking heads on CNN are salivating in the fact that Wilson will not be able to work again as a police officer. There is a bounty on his head. CNN says he created this problem for himself………………I think we are seeing anarchy when the innocent are subject to mob and media violence.

  • See The Future

    Do you think Brooke Baldwin is having LZ Granderson over for Thanksgiving dinner?

  • none of your business

    Harvard law professors have issued a statement that the grand jury process was deeply flawed and its conclusion based on racism. They also claim the District attorney acted as a defense attorney for Darren Wilson in his cherry picked witnesses and anti black bias.

  • none of your business

    Ruth Vader Ginsburg just had heart surgery. The vicious old commie Jew will not retire from the Supreme court until the court rules the death penalty for civil rights violations for Darren Wilson, the chief of police and Mayor of Ferguson, the prosecutor, the grand jurors and every witness that told the truth.