Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Trouble with Grand Juries

Over the last couple of days, I've sat and watched basic comments from the Grand Jury of the Ferguson cop case come up.  What is talked about......concerns the autopsy of the kid (Micheal Brown).  It shows that he wasn't turning away or a yard or more from the shooter.....he was right there leaning into the car.

Folks have gotten disturbed over this leak....saying it just isn't right for Grand Jury material to get leaked.  They are probably right over that.  But then, what happens in two or three weeks....as the Grand Jury hands down their review of "no court case"?  This is the only way to get people to talking and reacting to information that the Grand Jury has reviewed, and grasp that the original story told by a couple bystanders.....wasn't really truthful.

From viewing four interviews yesterday, I'm prone to say that people from around Ferguson just want the Grand Jury to pass this onto a judge and let the trial occur anyway.  Generally, a Grand Jury is there to ensure some basic evidence exists and there's some marginal suggestion of possible quilt.  The crowd, I perceive, doesn't want the Grand Jury involved.....they want a full-up trial case, with a standing jury of their peers.

When I graduated from high school in 1977.....I went out into the world in a fairly naive state of mind when it came to civics and basic law.  From the last three years of high school history and civics......I probably had a decent idea of the Constitution, my rights, how to vote, and an explanation over different forms of government.   No one ever explained legal rights upon arrest.  No one ever talked over the purpose of the Grand Jury.  No one ever discussed legal punishments or such.

I look upon these people from Ferguson and their understanding (or lack of understanding) of law, and see a group of people with marginal sense of the situation.  They figure.....toss the case to a judge and jury, make sure that locals are fairly picked to be on the jury, and they will surely come to pronounce guilt over the cop involved....thus sentencing him to life in prison.  That's the only outcome allowed in their mind.  They might come to agree to a fifteen-year sentence, but that's with a lot of anguish.  No trial at all?  That just can't be possible.

The prosecutor in this type of case?  This is an interesting thing.  At some point where the Grand Jury is agreed the margin of quilt.....the head prosecutor of a district or county....will sit and evaluate just how winnable the case is.  If this is a absolute dunk.....he'll do it himself.  If there's a less-than-fifty percent chance?  He'll hand the case to one of the junior prosecutors on the team and just watch from a distance.  Why screw up political opportunities later in life with one bad failure of a court episode?

Once the autopsy showed the kid leaning into the car.....it really puts this into a different light from the original story that the news media picked up and carried for days.  The toxicology report?  That one is still out there and kept secret.....but I would suspect the kid had a minimum of weed in his system.....to such a degree that he really couldn't think and react in the right way.  In the end, the high that he was on.....simply got himself into a fair amount of danger.  He didn't deserve to die, but he was doing some awful stupid stuff.

Sometime before Thanksgiving, I expect the Grand Jury to settle this and just hand down the opinion that there is no evidence to support a trial.  The Justice Department will be all over this and suggest some civil rights abuses.....which will go to a whole new procedure, and a federal Grand Jury.  The odds of getting that jury to agree?  Probably same as this episode.  Unattainable.

Theater will occur next......a burning of the town.  Figure at least a hundred people arrested.  Some stores burnt.....won't be rebuilt.  Most of the police force by spring of 2015 will have found other jobs and left.  Businesses will feel threatened with lesser police reaction, then start to close down.  It's a fairly dead town within three years. Go look at southeast DC.....there's not a single grocery store in a neighborhood of 50,000 residents.  Until the 1980s.....they had several grocery operations, and then as each was threatened.....each closed.  Nothing came back. It's the same way in Ferguson, I feel.

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