A Ferguson grand juror is suing for the right to speak about the decision that failed to indict Darren Wilson after killing an unarmed and black 18-year-old, Michael Brown. The lawsuit was filed on Monday.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the unnamed juror. The lawsuit says the juror wants to remove the lifetime gag order because “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.”
The Ferguson grand juror who is suing would like to speak about the experience of being on the panel. The juror claims the explanation of the law was made in a “muddled and untimely manner” compared with other cases presented to the grand jurors. The lawsuit also states McCullough focused more on the victim than other cases do.
He or she would ultimately like to contribute to the national conversation about race relations, particularly between police officers and minorities. The information the grand juror delivers could inform legislators and the public about important policy questions to consider while handling law enforcement and racial issues.
The lawsuit names St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCullough as the defendant because he would be the one to sue for the juror breaking the lifetime gag order.
Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said in a statement, “The rules of secrecy must yield because this is a highly unusual circumstance. The First Amendment prevents the state from imposing a lifetime gag order in cases where the prosecuting attorney has purported to be transparent.”
McCullough announced on Nov. 24 that the grand jury would not indict Wilson who shot Brown at least six times on Aug. 9. After the decision, protests erupted throughout the country, and many businesses in Ferguson were burned and looted.
Protests, many peaceful, continued in December after a grand jury failed to indict an NYPD officer who used a chokehold move on unarmed, black Eric Garner that resulted in his death.
The Ferguson trial faced criticism from its beginnings because McCullough’s father was an officer shot in the line of duty. Many wanted a special prosecutor to oversee the case because they felt McCullough’s personal experiences would bias him too much.
Activists have further pressed that McCullough presented information in a way to ensure there would be no indictment for Wilson.
McCullough currently has no comment for the lawsuit. He has 21 days to file a response for the case of the Ferguson grand juror suing for the right to break the lifetime gag order.[Photo Credit: Susan Melkisethian]