ST. LOUIS – A member of the grand jury that declined to indict a white Ferguson police officer in 18-year-old Michael Brown's shooting death last summer has asked a county judge to expeditiously allow her to publicly discuss those secret proceedings and free of her of possibly being prosecuted for it.
The woman, identified in her St. Louis County lawsuit only as "Grand Juror Doe," asserts that St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch mischaracterized the jury's findings. The suit against McCulloch came more than three weeks after a judge ruled in a similar lawsuit in federal court that the former grand juror needed to first press a state court for permission to talk freely.
A McCulloch spokesman, Ed Magee, declined comment on the matter Thursday.
Brown, who was black and unarmed, was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson last August, touching off protests that at times turned violent. McCulloch announced Nov. 24 that a grand jury that investigated Wilson's actions declined to indict him, fueling additional protests.
Grand Juror Doe's lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, alleges McCulloch wrongly implied that all 12 jurors believed there was no support for any charges, which "does not comport with (the grand juror's) own opinions and view of the grand jury proceedings."
Under Missouri law, an indictment requires agreement by nine of the panel's dozen members, and grand jurors are sworn to secrecy under the threat of contempt or other charges.
After the decision was announced, McCulloch took the unusual step of releasing thousands of pages of testimony provided to the grand jury. Grand jurors usually hear a condensed version of evidence that might be presented at trial, but the Ferguson grand jury heard more extensive testimony.
Grand Juror Doe's lawsuit says she came away with the impression that evidence was presented differently than in other cases, with a "stronger focus on the victim," rather than Wilson, and "the insinuation that Michael Brown, not Wilson, was the wrongdoer."
Wilson, who since has resigned, also was cleared by a Justice Department investigation.
In her lawsuit, Grand Juror Doe insists her experiences on the panel — it met on 25 days over three months, hearing more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses — "could aid in educating the public about how grand juries function" and help advocate for changing how grand juries are conducted in Missouri.