A member of the grand jury that elected not to indict Ferguson, Mo. Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown Jr. is suing the St. Louis County prosecutor to lift the ban on speaking about the case.
The juror, known as “Grand Juror Doe,” also stated in the lawsuit that prosecutor Robert McCulloch “mischaracterized” Wilson’s case.
“In [the grand juror]’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 says. “Moreover, the public characterization of the grand jurors’ view of witnesses and evidence does not accord with [Doe]’s own.”
“From [the grand juror]’s perspective, the investigation of Wilson had a stronger focus on the victim than in other cases presented to the grand jury,” the lawsuit states. Doe also believes the legal standards were conveyed in a “muddled” and “untimely” manner to the grand jury.
While announcing Wilson’s non-indictment, McCulloch stated that there was not sufficient evidence to charge the officer. He also blamed the media and protesters for their portrayal of events. However, the lawsuit suggests that Wilson’s case was mishandled.
Instead of recommending a charge, McCulloch’s office presented thousands of pages worth of evidence and testimony before the grand jury. At one point, McCulloch’s spokesman characterized the grand jury as co-investigators.
“From [Doe]’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,” the lawsuit says.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, Grand Juror Doe “would like to talk about the experience of serving on a grand jury, the evidence presented and the investigation in a way that could contribute to the public dialogue concerning race relations,” but cannot because state law restrictions require secrecy about grand jury deliberations.
State law says that grand jurors shall not “disclose any evidence given” nor “the name of any witness who appeared before them,” adding that any juror who violates that is guilty of a misdemeanor. The ACLU is asking a judge to grant an injunction that prohibits enforcing those laws (or threatening to) in this case.
The laws “prevent [the grand juror] from discussing truthful information about a matter of public significance,” the lawsuit says. “As applied in the circumstances of this case, the challenged laws act as a prior restraint on [Doe’s] expressive activity.”
McCulloch’s office has yet to respond. We’ll keep you updated with the latest.
SOURCE: STL Public Radio, CNN | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty