After the verdict announcement in Ferguson this week, the public release of grand jury testimony in the related proceedings has led lawyers and legal scholars to speak out against the corruption of prosecutor Robert McCulloch. Now, the National Bar Association has released an official statement, questioning whether had ever intended to push for an indictment at all, in spite of the fact that it was his job to do so.
“It looks like he wanted to create the appearance that there had been a public trial when in fact there hadn’t been,” said Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman, in an interview with The New York Times.
Feldman said that it all seemed like “the prosecutor didn’t want an indictment—and didn’t want to be blamed for not getting one.”
Lawyer and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin who writes for The New Yorker, says that explains that McCulloch methods in the proceedings bizarre and unconventional. Toobin claims that this indicates that Wilson was given special treatment:
McCulloch gave Wilson’s case special treatment. He turned it over to the grand jury, a rarity itself, and then used the investigation as a document dump, an approach that is virtually without precedent in the law of Missouri or anywhere else. Buried underneath every scrap of evidence McCulloch could find, the grand jury threw up its hands and said that a crime could not be proved. This is the opposite of the customary ham-sandwich approach, in which the jurors are explicitly steered to the prosecutor’s preferred conclusion. Some might suggest that all cases should be treated the way McCulloch handled Wilson before the grand jury, with a full-fledged mini trial of all the incriminating and exculpatory evidence presented at this preliminary stage. Of course, the cost of such an approach, in both time and money, would be prohibitive, and there is no guarantee that the ultimate resolutions of most cases would be any more just. In any event, reserving this kind of special treatment for white police officers charged with killing black suspects cannot be an appropriate resolution.
The National Bar Association’s recent press release, however, might go the furthest of all critiques… and it might carry the most weight. The National Bar Association is the United States’ oldest and largest network of largely African American attorneys and judges. This week they questioned not only the decision of the grand jury, but it’s tone. The the full statement from the National Bar Association is as follows:
The National Bar Association is questioning how the Grand Jury, considering the evidence before them, could reach the conclusion that Darren Wilson should not be indicted and tried for the shooting death of Michael Brown. National Bar Association President Pamela J. Meanes expresses her sincere disappointment with the outcome of the Grand Jury’s decision but has made it abundantly clear that the National Bar Association stands firm and will be calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue federal charges against officer Darren Wilson. “We will not rest until Michael Brown and his family has justice” states Pamela Meanes, President of the National Bar Association.
President Meanes is requesting that the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri not allow this decision to cause an unnecessary uproar in the community that could lead to arrests, injuries or even deaths of innocent people. “I am asking for everyone to remain as calm as possible and to join in solidarity as we continue to support the family of Michael Brown and put our legal plan into full effect” says President Meanes “I feel the magnitude of the grand jury’s ruling as Ferguson, Missouri is only minutes from where I reside”, adds President Meanes.
Over the last couple of months, the National Bar Association has hosted Town Hall meetings informing attendees of their Fourth Amendment (Search & Seizure) constitutional rights, whether it is legal to record police activity, and how citizens should behave/respond if and when they interface with police officers. “The death of Michael Brown was the last straw and the catalyst for addressing issues of inequality and racial bias in policing, the justice system, and violence against members of minority communities,” states Pamela Meanes.
The family of Michael Brown requested that District Attorney McCullough step aside and allow a special prosecutor be assigned to the investigation to give the community confidence that the grand jury would conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the tragic shooting death of 18 year old Michael Brown. The grand jury’s decision confirms the fear that many expressed months ago — that a fair and impartial investigation would not happen.
“The National Bar Association is adamant about our desire for transformative justice. While we are disappointed with the grand jury’s ruling, we are promoting peace on every street corner around the world. The only way to foster systemic change is to organize, educate, and mobilize. We are imploring everyone to fight against the injustice in Ferguson, Missouri and throughout the United States by banding together and working within the confines of the law,” states President Meanes.
This is clearly not just an issue protesters are blowing out of proportion. Legal experts and scholars are coming out in the open and saying that justice was not served. They are telling us that the way the grand jury was conducted, and the special treatment the prosecutor gave are indicative of systematic corruption.
(Article by Moreh B.D.K.)