Ferguson Prosecutor Wants|Grand Juror Muzzled


     ST. LOUIS (CN) – A grand juror in the Michael Brown shooting case should not be allowed to speak about his experiences, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch claims in a legal memo.
     Grand Juror Doe sued McCulloch in January in Federal Court.
     Doe said that a lifetime gag order that prevents him from discussing his experiences on the grand jury violates his right to free speech. He said he wants to speak about his experiences to educate the public and advocate for change in how grand juries operate in Missouri.
     State law bars grand jurors from discussing their votes, deliberations, evidence and the names of witnesses who appeared.
     The grand jury in the Brown case refused to indict Darren Wilson on Nov. 24, sparking widespread rioting and looting in the Ferguson, Mo. area.
     Wilson, a white police officer, fatally shot Brown, an unarmed black teenager, on Aug. 9, 2014.
     Assistant Attorney General David Hansen filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of McCulloch late Monday. The motion states that Doe did not show that a justifiable case or controversy exists.
     “Defendant has already released the evidence and testimony given before the grand jury in the Wilson investigation under the Missouri Sunshine Law, and it is not objectively reasonable for plaintiff to believe defendant will prosecute him for disclosing the same information,” the 17-page motion states.
     “Indeed, although the information released by defendant was redacted to protect the identities of witnesses and others involved in the investigation, plaintiff has not alleged that he wants to disclose any new evidence or reveal the names of any persons that have not already been publicly identified.”
     McCulloch’s attorney said that Doe should be barred from disclosing information not already disclosed by McCulloch.
     “Such information, especially as it relates to evidence and witnesses, is not plaintiff’s to disclose, and would pose a clear and present danger to the persons whose identities remain unknown to the public,” the motion states.
     McCulloch also claims that the Federal Court should abstain from ruling on state court matters.
     “In this case, plaintiff is requesting the court to issue an injunction that would threaten the continued health and sound functioning of Missouri’s grand jury system,” the motion states. “Given the important state issues raised in this case, the court should abstain from exercising its jurisdiction over plaintiff’s claims.”
     Doe is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. ACLU Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman responded to the motion with a prepared statement.
     “These sorts of filings that attempt to prevent the court from reaching the merits of a case are not uncommon,” Mittman said in the statement. “We are confident this matter will move forward. The goal of the ACLU remains to allow Grand Juror Doe the freedom to provide important information to the public and elected representatives, without punishment by the government.”

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