Michael Brown case: Ferguson teen's parents and double standards

On October 24th, Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Michael Brown's family, told MSNBC that "All Michael Brown's family has asked from day one is equal justice for their son. The concept of due process, this notion of all the laws in the legal proceedings being fair for them, just like it is for a police officer."

I have to wonder how they define fair.

A grand jury has been reviewing evidence in the case against Officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown since August 20.


This week, the grand jury heard from Dr Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist hired by the family's attorneys to perform an autopsy. This autopsy was done in addition to the one performed by the County Coroner, and another performed by a federal pathologist.

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    Attorney Crump has complained that when leaks happen he cannot have confidence in the grand jury, but another attorney for the family didn't hesitate to tell the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Baden is testifying.

    It is unusual for an expert hired by one of the parties to address a grand jury.  Typically the evidence presented is meant to be objective and the people who testify are meant to be not interested (or paid).

    There has been no leak to support the idea that the same opportunity to offer paid witnesses is being afforded for Officer Wilson. We have not heard that anyone retained by his attorney has presented to the grand jury, and in fact Wilson's own lawyer is not allowed to speak during the proceedings. Lawyers for Officer Wilson have also chosen not to speak to the media, in contrast to those hired by the Brown family.  But all they want is equal justice...

    There are some who have questioned the timing of Dr Baden's testimony.  Lisa Bloom, an attorney who often provides commentary for various media outlets, tweeted this week that it is "amazing that the prosecution only called him before the grand jury this late"

    Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom)
    11/12/14, 6:08 PM
    Dr. Michael Baden is a renowned pathologist retained by Mike Brown family. Amazingly prosecutors only called him before grand jury at this late date.

    Maybe she has heard a leak that we haven't, because without other information this is not amazing at all.

    It could be that after almost two months the grand jury is only now hearing from all of the pathologists who reviewed the evidence.

    Ms.Bloom doesn't mention that Dr. Baden has been given access to all of the evidence reviewed by the state's pathologist, or that the family attorney wouldn't say whether he expected Baden to present an interpretation contrary to the state's pathologist. Without a full transcript of the grand jury proceedings, it is hard to agree that this is amazing.

    I find it far more amazing that Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, does not seem to want the same fairness and transparency to apply when she is investigated for a crime.

    Ms. McSpadden is being investigated for felony robbery in an incident involving her mother-in-law and the sale of "Justice for Mike Brown" merchandise.  However, Ms McSpadden asked the police not to release the incident report and the report was only released after a judge said the law mandated it.

    It seems that for Ms McSpadden and her attorneys, the idea of equal justice and the laws being the same for all depends on the circumstance and the persons accused. And now, as the grand jury continues to hear evidence, Brown's parents have flown to Geneva to present to the UN Committee Against Torture. They've submitted a statement requesting the UN to recommend immediate arrest of Officer Wilson.  Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, said "We need the world to know what is going on in Ferguson and we need justice."

    It is hard to imagine how this quest for justice at the UN can be fruitful when there will be no evidence presented and no presentation by Officer Wilson or someone on his behalf.  The Committee does not have the evidence necessary to determine whether an arrest is appropriate or warranted, and yet they are asked to recommend arrest all the same.  It seems that Attorney Crump's call for due process doesn't extend to the United Nations either.

    When calling for justice it is important to remember that while Lady Justice is blind,  hypocrisy is something one feels in the gut.