Ferguson grand juror sues for right to talk about Michael Brown case
A member of the grand jury that declined to bring charges in the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown is suing the St. Louis County prosecutor to be allowed to speak on the case, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri said Monday.
The unnamed juror “would like to talk about the experience of serving on a grand jury, the evidence presented and the investigation in a way that could contribute to the public dialogue concerning race relations,” but is barred from doing so by state law that requires secrecy about grand jury deliberations, the ACLU said in a statement.
The grand jury decided in November that it would not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the August 9, 2014, death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teen whose death sparked riots and nationwide calls for police reform.
Wilson told investigators Brown charged him and he feared for his life, but Brown’s family and supporters accused the officer of needlessly killing the 18-year-old.
Protests and riots followed the grand jury’s decision.
The juror, referred to by the ACLU as “Grand Juror Doe” is suing Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch because he would be responsible for bringing charges against the grand juror for speaking out, the ACLU said.
The organization said it would be wrong for the state to impose a “lifetime gag order” on the grand juror.
“The Supreme Court has said that grand jury secrecy must be weighed against the juror’s First Amendment rights on a case-by-case basis. The rules of secrecy must yield because this is a highly unusual circumstance,” ACLU legal director Tony Rothert said.