In a move that tarnishes the reputation of the ALCU and reveals the deep ideological bias in its ranks, the Missouri chapter of the esteemed organization has encouraged a Ferguson grand juror to sue in order to end the lifetime ban on grand jurors revealing what occurs during proceedings, allowing the juror to become a media star and, presumably, undermining the credibility of the deliberations that resulted in no indictment against Officer Wilson for his fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
1. Grand jury proceedings have to be confidential, or the system will not work (yes, it worked as well as it possibly could have in Ferguson.) Secrecy prevents those who are being investigated from interfering with witnesses and otherwise tampering with and attempting to corrupt the investigation. It protects witnesses who might be reluctant to testify if they believed their comments would be made public. It decreases the likelihood that one who is about to be indicted by a grand jury will flee and thereby avoid being brought to trial on those charges. It also protects innocent individuals whose names may be implicated in a grand jury investigation but who will never be indicted.
2. The prohibition on participants in grand jury proceedings revealing what occurs there is not a restriction on free speech any more than a government employee being prohibited from revealing national security information. This is a necessary restriction based on due process and the functioning of the rule of law, and grand jurors agree to the prohibition as a condition of service.
3. The ACLU is grandstanding for its progressive, civil rights zealot fans and contributors. This is an irresponsible case: if it prevailed, the justice system would be thrown into chaos.
3. If even one grand jury is able to have the ban on secrecy lifted, every grand jury will labor under the fear of those involved that jurors will speak to the media and reveal harmful details. I will be shocked if the ACLU lawsuit succeeds. I think it is a frivolous suit, and a violation of legal ethics Rule 3.1 that prohibits such actions.
4. The grand juror who is seeking the lifting of the ban has arguably already revealed more than he is allowed to do legally under the law, which prohibits disclosing “matters occurring before the grand jury.”
5. The supposed explosive revelations the juror wants to expand upon are nothing at all, just ignorant and biased complaints that have already been thoroughly explored and debated by legal experts. The likes of progressive website Think Progress falsely represents the juror’s views as “significant” because progressives so, so desperately want to prove that Michael Brown was executed by a racist cop who was corruptly exonerated by a biased prosecutor. But as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, there is no there there.
- “Wilson’s case was treated dramatically different than hundreds of other cases he heard during his grand jury service.” That’s right, because unlike those other cases, the media, demagogues like Al Sharpton and local protestors deceived by false accounts repeated by incompetent journalists had already decided that Wilson was guilty, though the evidence did not show it. St. Louis County District Attorney Robert P. McCulloch didn’t want to indict, and had the political and public pressure not warped the system, he wouldn’t have used a grand jury at all. In this case, because of the spacial circumstances prejudicing the process, the prosecutor used the grand jury to avoid an unjust indictment rather than seek a just one. That is his job and his right: the grand jury is his tool to use as the case demands.
- “McCulloch made the insinuation that Brown, not Wilson, was the wrongdoer.” Yes, that’s because he was.
- “He also questions ‘whether the grand jury was clearly counseled on the law.'” It doesn’t matter. The grand jury was properly counseled on the law that was relevant: what constitutes sufficient grounds to indict. The law that was apparently misstated to the jury, a defunct Missouri law that allowed officers to fire on a fleeing suspect, didn’t apply to the facts of the case as forensic evidence showed them to be. Brown wasn’t killed while fleeing.
- A “skewed picture of grand jury deliberations to the public was exacerbated by how evidence was released.” If true, so what? There is no obligation to reveal anything at all about grand jury deliberations, other than the final result.
- “With ‘heavy redactions and the absence of context, those records do not fully portray the proceedings before the grand jury.'” And yet they reveal more about these grand jury proceedings than the public ever learns about 99.99% of the rest. The lawsuit makes no sense. The public has no more inherent right to know everything about grand jury proceedings than it has to read a prosecutor’s mind.
- “Plaintiff would like to speak about the experience of being a grand juror, including expressing Plaintiff’s opinions about the evidence and the investigation, and believes Plaintiff’s experience could contribute to the current public dialogue concerning race relations.” Translation: “Plaintiff would like to set himself up as the go to guy for protests, rallies, seminars and media interview, maybe have a book deal, and a launch a new career as the Mike Brown murder whistleblower.” And I’d like to be the host of “Meet the Press.” Tough.
- Once this grand juror is allowed to bloviate, how can the others be stopped? How can any grand jurors anywhere be stopped? So all grand jury decisions will immediately be subject to self-interested and competing grand jurors attempting to either undermine the result or defend the decision they were a part of, destroying both the integrity of the system, its credibility and its value, and all because the Left really needs to make the facts of the Brown incident fit the “hands up” narrative it committed to before the facts were in.
- “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.” Seriously? Who cares what “the plaintiff’s view” is? Where was there any implication that the grand jury decision was unanimous? I assumed it wasn’t, didn’t you? The grand jury vote is virtually never revealed, never has been revealed for decades upon decades, and suddenly the ACLU thinks it is so crucial that it is worth killing the whole grand jury system for.
- ” [T] he public characterization of the grand jurors’ view of witnesses and evidence does not accord with Plaintiff’s own.” By all means, let us make the criminal justice system dysfunctional so that this juror’s “view of witnesses and evidence” prevails.
The awful truth is that for political and ideological reasons, many will not abandon the convenient fiction, now growing into legend, that a an unarmed black teen was gunned down by a racist polite officer, and that the fact that the officer was white and the victim was black is sufficient evidence alone for an indictment. That is their view of the world, of the U.S., of white Americans and police officers, and no facts, and no ethical principles, like fairness, objectivity, or honesty, will shake it.
I expected better of the ACLU.
I will try not to make that mistake again.