Advertisement
News by VICE

Grand Juror in Ferguson Case Wants the Right to Speak Up and Is Suing the Prosecutor to Get It

A lawsuit filed Monday claims the public record needs to be corrected after St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch mischaracterized the Ferguson case.

by Alice Speri
Jan 5 2015, 11:15pm

Photo via AP/ Tom Gannam

One of the 12 members of the grand jury that declined to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown filed a lawsuit Monday against St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, accusing him of mischaracterizing the case in his public statements.

The anonymous plaintiff — identified in the court filing as "Grand Juror Doe" — is under an indefinite gag order that prohibits all jurors from discussing the case. Demanding the right to speak up, the plaintiff took issue with McCulloch's characterization of the case in a number of interviews the prosecutor has given since he announced the grand jury's decision not to indict Wilson on November 25, reigniting protests in Ferguson and in cities across the country.

The unnamed grand juror claims in the lawsuit that, "any interests furthered by maintaining grand jury secrecy are outweighed by the interests secured by the First Amendment."

Ferguson protesters win temporary restraining order against police use of tear gas. Read more here.

The ACLU of Missouri, which is representing "Grand Juror Doe," said in a statement that their client would like to talk about the experience of serving on the jury — and the evidence McCulloch presented — "in a way that could contribute to the public dialogue concerning race relations."

"Grand Juror Doe's perspective can and should help inform a way forward here in Missouri," Jeffrey Mittman, the group's executive director, said. "The ACLU will fight to allow this important voice to be heard by the public and lawmakers so that we can begin the healing process that can only result from fact-based reforms."

According to the lawsuit, the grand jury proceedings have been misrepresented — including by McCulloch himself — without jurors being able to correct the public record.

Grand Juror Doe accuses McCulloch of making statements that may have led the public to believe "all" the jurors believed there was not enough evidence to charge Wilson, who has since resigned from his job at the Ferguson police department.

According to the lawsuit, McCulloch's statements about the grand jury were "not entirely accurate." McCulloch's public accounts of the way the grand jury viewed witnesses and evidence "does not accord" with the plaintiff's own views, the lawsuit alleges.

Ferguson officials aren't telling you what happened to Mike Brown. Read more here.

Grand Juror Doe also accuses McCulloch of presenting evidence "differently than in other cases, with the insinuation that Brown, not Wilson, was the wrongdoer."

"From Plaintiff's perspective, the presentation of evidence to the grand jury investigating Wilson differed markedly and in significant ways from how evidence was presented in the hundreds of matters presented to the grand jury earlier in its term," the lawsuit says.

The anonymous juror also alleges that the St. Louis County prosecutor presented the legal standards the grand jury was supposed to follow in a "muddled and untimely manner."

A spokesman for McCulloch did not immediately respond to VICE News' requests for comment. Lawyers for the Brown family also could not be reached for comment.

GJ Complaint

Follow Alice Speri on Twitter:@alicesperi