Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jonathan Cohn at TNR on Ferguson

  Worth a read, it seems to me.   (via Lawyers, Guns, and Money)
   My poorly-informed view from afar is that Wilson's account sounds more consistent with the physical evidence than alternate accounts that make Wilson a murderer...but I've wondered whether there might be enough contrary evidence that the grand jury should have indicted and let a trial jury sort it out.
   Sadly, I'm too ignorant of the law to deserve an opinion on this. If anybody can point me to anything helpful, I'd appreciate it.


Blogger tehr0x0r said...

Any civilian in a similar circumstance would have been indicted (see George Zimmerman, admittedly not the best example, cause that dude turned out to be crazy, but its recent and the circumstances are similar). My take (although admittedly I spent 99% of my time in civil, rather than criminal litigation) is that the facts wouldn't have supported a conviction. That said, grand juries always, and I do mean always indict. This Washington Post article sums this stat up nicely.


What this indicates to me is that:

1 - in America we have a major cop worship complex, we just don't hold them accountable.

2 - The DA didn't press hard for an indictment. In fact, the fact that Officer Wilson was allowed to testify indicates that the DA wanted to have this no billed. You have no right to testify at a grand jury proceeding (and often don't even get informed that a grand jury is considering charging you). In a grand jury there is no judge, the prosecutor runs the show, he or she wants to prosecute someone, so they tell a grand jury to let them, and with no opposing counsel, and no judge, they get what they want.

3 - This entire case was a disaster. The public, based on early reports, which turned out to be wildly inaccurate, decided that Officer Wilson shot Mr. Brown in cold blood because he was black. The police then bungled the release of info on the situation and the Governor was beyond clueless in the response. Finally, the DA apparently deciding that looting was a good thing, waited 8 hours to announce the result, apparently wanting to wait until night had fallen and it would be harder to stop violence.

Anyway, given the way the case was presented, as indicated in the New Republic article, there was no way he was going to be charged. Although I think the grand jury system is rigged against defendants, and that this is the sort of result that should normally happen, that's not how the system works. So, to your musing that there was enough to go to a real trial, you bet there was, but between the cop worship and the disinterested DA, there was no way it was going to happen, and really, that special treatment for a police officer should worry us all.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well that's just great.

2 I mean.

I already basically knew about 1 and 3... But 2... And the combination...

Damn I am rapidly losing respect for the legal system...

7:24 AM  
Blogger tehr0x0r said...

The grand jury system is a joke, historically grand juries were an investigative body, but today they are just cover for prosecutors to go after people and say that there was probable cause. In fact, I believe the United States is the only country in the world that continues to use them, most countries now have all preliminary probable cause issues handled by judges. We act as if the system is a protection of the rights of citizens, and it once was, but today no more.

That said, take faith in the fact that even if the grand jury system is FUBAR, the general criminal trial system works.

6:21 PM  

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