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St. Louis Activists Ask Court to Remove Prosecutor for ‘Bad Faith’ in Darren Wilson Grand Jury

Screen shot from C-SPAN broadcast of Ferguson grand jury decision announced by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch

Activists in St. Louis have requested that a circuit court investigate and remove St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch for conducting the grand jury into Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s killing of Michael Brown in an “arbitrary manner and in bad faith.”

When a person has evidence that an elected official “knowingly or willfully” refused to perform their public duties, under Missouri law, they may file an affidavit with a court clerk and urge an investigation. Most of the time the County Prosecutor would handle the investigation. In this instance, since activists contend McCulloch is guilty, they request that a special prosecutor be appointed to handle the investigation into whether he acted “corruptly.”

Redditt Hudson, a former law enforcement officer, argues in his affidavit that McCulloch engaged in the “highly unusual” practice of allowing the target of the grand jury investigation, Wilson, to testify.

“Prosecutors presented evidence of Officer Wilson’s justification defense to the grand jury,” Hudson declares. “Other Missouri defendants are not afforded the opportunity to present their defenses to the grand jury, much less have the prosecutors present such evidence on their behalf.”

Hudson also suggests prosecutors were confused about how to instruct grand jurors on Wilson’s “justification defense,” which underlined the “arbitrariness of the grand jury proceedings, as it shows the prosecutors treated this investigation differently than other shootings.”

More significantly, Hudson raises the issue of Wilson being allowed to to present testimony, which prosecutors did not challenge, “even though it contradicted his prior testimony and his prior law enforcement statements contradicted the physical evidence.”

Wilson first told police investigators he did not suspect Mr. Brown or Mr. Dorian Johnson—Mr. Brown’s friend who witnessed the incident—of having committed a crime when the altercation occurred, but he told the grand jury in his unchallenged testimony that he in fact did suspect Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson of having robbed a nearby convenience store when the altercation between him and Mr. Brown occurred. He also told police that upon exiting his police vehicle Mr. Brown retreated about thirty or forty feet before the fatal shooting occurred. Yet Mr. Brown’s body was found over 100 feet from Officer Wilson’s police vehicle, indicating that Officer Wilson pursued the fleeing Mr. Brown farther than he told police.

Additionally, Hudson notes that the prosecutors initially failed to properly explain the “constitutional limits on police use of deadly force.” They gave grand jurors a Missouri statute that was unconstitutional, according to the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee v. Garner and then later provided a “new standard” that they claimed was in line with that 1985 ruling. Yet, by that point, they had thoroughly confused grand jurors in a manner which favored Wilson.

He also takes issue with the prosecutors’ focus on Brown’s toxicology report, which showed he had marijuana in his system. It fed into this idea that the victim was to blame for the shooting.

Montague Simmons, executive director of the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS), Juliette Jacobs, a community organizer with OBS and Tara Thompson, a community activist in St. Louis, each submitted similar affidavits.

“Bob McCulloch expertly administered a miscarriage of justice and it’s obvious that he cannot be trusted to work on behalf of the people of St. Louis,” Simmons stated. “As a result of Governor Jay Nixon’s refusal to ensure an unbiased investigation, we’ve had to take action.”

“While the Prosecuting Attorney has discretion over which cases to bring to a Grand Jury, he shouldn’t use one to mount an impassioned defense of a police officer accused of killing an unarmed citizen,” Redditt Hudson asserted.

The legal effort to remove McCulloch came about ten days after a former member of the grand jury, “Grand Juror Doe,” sued McCulloch for enforcing statutes, which effectively impose a lifetime gag that allegedly violates his or her First Amendment rights.

“Grand Juror Doe,” who served as a grand juror for other investigations, found that “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 presentation of the law to which the grand jurors were to apply the facts was made in a muddled and untimely manner compared to the presentation of the law in other cases presented to the grand jury.”

As far as process, St. Louis Public Radio explains that what could happen next is if a special prosecutor happened to determine that McCulloch did not “properly perform his duties,” then the special prosecutor would file a “write quo warranto.” It is “an official challenge to McCulloch’s right to hold his office.” Both sides would then present evidence before Judge Maura McShane, who would then issue a decision.

CommunityFDL Main BlogThe Dissenter

St. Louis Activists Ask Court to Remove Prosecutor for ‘Bad Faith’ in Darren Wilson Grand Jury

Screen shot from C-SPAN broadcast of Ferguson grand jury decision announced by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch

Activists in St. Louis have requested that a circuit court investigate and remove St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch for conducting the grand jury into Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s killing of Michael Brown in an “arbitrary manner and in bad faith.”

When a person has evidence that an elected official “knowingly or willfully” refused to perform their public duties, under Missouri law, they may file an affidavit with a court clerk and urge an investigation. Most of the time the County Prosecutor would handle the investigation. In this instance, since activists contend McCulloch is guilty, they request that a special prosecutor be appointed to handle the investigation into whether he acted “corruptly.”

Redditt Hudson, a former law enforcement officer, argues in his affidavit that McCulloch engaged in the “highly unusual” practice of allowing the target of the grand jury investigation, Wilson, to testify.

“Prosecutors presented evidence of Officer Wilson’s justification defense to the grand jury,” Hudson declares. “Other Missouri defendants are not afforded the opportunity to present their defenses to the grand jury, much less have the prosecutors present such evidence on their behalf.”

Hudson also suggests prosecutors were confused about how to instruct grand jurors on Wilson’s “justification defense,” which underlined the “arbitrariness of the grand jury proceedings, as it shows the prosecutors treated this investigation differently than other shootings.”

More significantly, Hudson raises the issue of Wilson being allowed to to present testimony, which prosecutors did not challenge, “even though it contradicted his prior testimony and his prior law enforcement statements contradicted the physical evidence.”

Wilson first told police investigators he did not suspect Mr. Brown or Mr. Dorian Johnson—Mr. Brown’s friend who witnessed the incident—of having committed a crime when the altercation occurred, but he told the grand jury in his unchallenged testimony that he in fact did suspect Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson of having robbed a nearby convenience store when the altercation between him and Mr. Brown occurred. He also told police that upon exiting his police vehicle Mr. Brown retreated about thirty or forty feet before the fatal shooting occurred. Yet Mr. Brown’s body was found over 100 feet from Officer Wilson’s police vehicle, indicating that Officer Wilson pursued the fleeing Mr. Brown farther than he told police.

Additionally, Hudson notes that the prosecutors initially failed to properly explain the “constitutional limits on police use of deadly force.” They gave grand jurors a Missouri statute that was unconstitutional, according to the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee v. Garner and then later provided a “new standard” that they claimed was in line with that 1985 ruling. Yet, by that point, they had thoroughly confused grand jurors in a manner which favored Wilson.
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

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