Justice

Legal Experts Explain Why The Ferguson Grand Jury Was Set Up For Failure

CREDIT: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

A shirt reading "hands up don't shoot" is covered with roses Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, at the spot Michael Brown was killed by police Aug. 9 in Ferguson.

In this video, two experienced attorneys explain what, in their view, are serious flaws with the grand jury process in the Darren Wilson case. The lawyers, St. Louis University law professor Susan McGraugh and Jerryl T. Christmas, a defense attorney and former prosecutor in St. Louis, are unsparing in their criticism of county prosecutor Bob McCulloch. (Christmas has participated in protests following Brown’s death.)

Specifically, McGraugh and Christmas question McCulloch’s unusual decision to present “all evidence” to the grand jury. Typically, prosecutors present to the grand jury only the evidence necessary to establish probable cause. (A grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence but only if a reasonable jury could find the defendant guilty.) McGraugh and Christmas are especially critical of McCulloch’s decision to allow Wilson to testify for hours in front of the grand jury.

McGraugh and Christmas emphasized that, when a prosecutor truly wants to get an indictment from a grand jury, it is usually very simple to do so.

The film was produced by Phillip Johnson, who describes himself as a “filmmaker, writer [and] community engager.”