Ferguson

Darren Wilson Got a Private Trial Run by Friendly Prosecutors

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Fox 2

As I noted yesterday, the likelihood that Darren Wilson would have been acquitted if he had faced a homicide charge in connection with the death of Michael Brown does not mean he should not have been indicted. As you go through the evidence that was presented to the grand jury, two things are clear: There is plenty of room for reasonable doubt as to whether Wilson broke the law when he shot and killed Brown, and there is considerable evidence that he did—surely enough to supply probable cause, the standard for charging someone with a crime. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch managed to obscure the latter point by staging what amounted to a trial behind closed doors—a trial without a judge or an adversarial process. Assuming the jurors were acting in good faith (and there is no reason to think they weren't), the only explanation for their decision is that they lost sight of the task at hand and considered the evidence as if they were being asked to convict Wilson rather than approve charges that would have led to a real trial.

It is not hard to see how the grand jurors could have made that mistake. McCulloch said he would present all of the evidence collected so far—everything a trial jury would see and hear. The jurors convened on 23 days, hearing testimony that takes up nearly 5,000 pages of transcript, not including the various recorded interviews played for them. Instead of making the case for an indictment, as they ordinarily would do, the prosecutors running the show often seemed to be reinforcing Wilson's defense, as when they suggested that marijuana-induced psychosis might account for the ferocious attack that Wilson says he suffered at Brown's hands and for the heedless charge that Wilson says forced him to shoot Brown over and over again.

McCulloch clearly thought an elaborate grand jury process, coupled with public release of all the evidence presented to the jurors, would help keep the peace and mollify critics who feared that Wilson would get away with murder. But a real trial, even one ending in acquittal, would have been much more effective at achieving those goals. A public airing of the evidence, with ample opportunity for advocates on both sides to present and probe it, is what Brown's family has been demanding all along. McCulloch took extraordinary steps to deny them that trial, thereby reinforcing the impression that the legal system is rigged against young black men and in favor of the white cops who shoot them.

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  1. I have a couple of problems with this sentiment.

    The first is that a trial, is punishment in and of itself, for innocent people because the judicial system has become so convoluted that the idea of a speedy trial is a complete joke.

    Secondly, I find it very disturbing that this shit case has become the cause celebre to highlight police abuse when on reflection it is no such thing. Throwing in with the race baiters and riot inciters that are driving the story is discrediting the case for rampant police abuse and the need for real reform.

    1. And on the flip side there is no rampant police abuse according to police supporters.When the dept of Ag. has a SWAT team there’s something wrong’Raids on businesses for importing wood and raw milk.Raids in the late night on the wrong houses.You can go on and on. The problem is two classes of people,cops and ‘civilians’.The WOD has legalized theft with no prof of a crime.It’s a mess created by the powers that be.

      1. And setting up a show tria of a cop with some justice on his side, which will end inacquittal, thereby dragging the whole mess out for months does NOTHING to address tampant police abuse.

        This isn’t a case of cops beating somebody already in custody to death. This isn’t a case of cops clearly and brutally breaking the law themselves. This is’t a case of cops playing Eliot Ness at the wrong address and somebody dying.

        This is a questionable shoot of an undeniable young punk. The police reaction to the neighborhood outrage was a clearer case of police lawlessness than the original shooting.

        This article is at best unhelpful.

        1. No, you just refuted yourself:

          This is a questionable shoot of an undeniable young punk.

          That’s what trials resolve — questionable shoots.

          1. That’s what trials should resolve, but very rarely ever do.

            Trials are rarely used when cops out and out murder someone.

            This probably should not be the poster case for the cause, but unfortunately, it was. The GJ was improperly conducted, and people will be calling this a conspiracy for years to come.

            1. The GJ was improperly conducted…? Really and please explain how you are an expert on GJs, the legal systems, trails, etc.

                1. Cannot speak for anyone else, but I did read the article, and I do not see any argumentation or information to support the claim that probable cause existed to go to trial.

                  The shooter, and witnesses both independently reported that shooter was being charged by a large violent man. Without the racial and/or cop angle this would not have even gone to a grand jury, much less trial.

                  A twelve year old who failed to adequately follow instructions, but had not harmed or attempted to harm anyone was recently killed by a cop.

                  That case deserves 10 times the attention this one is getting. but that one doesn’t have the Democrat party angle.

                  1. you’re right about the 12 yr old being a much more abhorent case.

                    And I agree that there probably isn’t enough probable cause for an indictment.

                    But the bottom line is that this GJ was not conducted in any way that appears fair or impartial.

                    A police officer was given special treatment.

                    1. I disagree. I think that this is what grand juries ought to be, not the one-sided affairs they are so often. In this case the GJ got to view all the evidence and make its decision, not just what a prosecutor thinks they ought to see to get an indictment.

                  2. agreed.
                    There are tons of cases where Black offenders have killed white people but nobody riots or lynches anyone. Those cases get no press or discussion but one black thug gets shot for clearly attacking a cop and the black community and the willing press explodes .

                    RIDICULOUS!!!!!!

        2. If you looked at the evidence, you’d realize this is NOT a “questionable shoot”.

    2. I’d probably agree if it wasn’t a cop. They should expect far higher scrutiny of their actions than a non-cop, not lower. He wasn’t acting as a private citizen. He killed someone in the name of the public he supposedly serves and that public has a right to expect a full account of what went down.
      This is a terrible case to make a big deal of if you are really concerned about police behavior and use of force. But in any case, inquiries into police use of force should be rigorous, open and public. And I agree with Sullum that this wasn’t that. The prosecutor should have been trying as hard as possible to make the case that charges should be brought. That’s his job.

      1. ^^This.

      2. I’d probably agree if it wasn’t a cop. They should expect far higher scrutiny of their actions than a non-cop, not lower.

        If he were remaining a cop, I’d agree.

        The fact that he feared for his life and discharged his firearm in the vehicle at a suspect that was otherwise unarmed speaks volumes to his training. The fact that the suspect was probably actually fleeing from a potential arrest speaks to his luck.

        I may not agree with his poor training or luck, but I can’t hold him to a higher standard as an individual because of them, IMO. I could certainly see a dozen other professions where person A *causes* person B’s death through poor training and bad luck and person A still keeps their job.

        But it remains to be seen whether Wilson will pick up a job on a force somewhere else.

        1. Medical pension due to PTSD.

          1. Not really, right?

            1. It’s an educated guess

        2. You pick up on one angle that is not getting enough attention.

          A civilian, faced with a similar circumstance – a large violent person reaching in/assaulting through the open window – would, in most places, be expected to simply hit the gas and get out of there.

          In any ‘duty to retreat’ jurisdiction pulling your piece and shooting the attacker might be problematic.

          It probably would have gone better for all involved if he had done similar, and then waited for backup, but he didn’t. And he did -lawfully- have that option to maintain contact, and try to affect an arrest.

          Again, in hindsight, not good, but not a crime either.

      3. Bullshit. He is a citizen of the United States of America. The standard for him should be the same as for anyone else.

        1. Not really. Cops have more leeway than we do because they are the sharp end of the State’s monopoly on the use of force.

      4. The prosecutor should have been seeking the truth which is exactly what he got. Prosecutors merely going after convictions are a HUGE problem in this country – remember the Duke Lacrosse case.
        The point of a grand jury is to determine if there is a case to be made at all. Obviously the grand jury(who was racially mixed ) found that the cops actions were entirely lawful.

        Just because you don’t like cops (I don’t like them either) makes the cop guilty.

        The rule is you don’t attack cops and try to take their gun. Browns prints were on the gun.

        1. People were crying that “exculpatory” evidence was presented and shouldn’t be. The evidence presented was relevant to whether a justifiable shooting or a crime occurred. That it favored the cop doesn’t mean that such evidence must be excluded from the GJ.

    3. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to tech tab for work detail

      ?????????? http://www.walletwiki.Com

  2. The level of analysis and microscopic examination of this case has caused most reports I’ve seen to lose the forest for the trees.

    I cannot wait for this to pass, as it inevitably will, from the American public’s impossibly-short attention.

    Most people don’t give a shit about cops shooting black teens, just THIS COP SHOOTING THIS BLACK TEEN CAUSE….?? I despise that. Oh, no one cares cause, WAIT! LOOK OVER THERE!! AL SHARPTON AND CAMERAS!!

    No, I do not support cops killing people, and it appears Ferguson cop clearly has his own part in provoking this incident. It wasn’t one sided, he’s no angel, etc. etc. But this has become like Hoodie Martin, an argument about something it’s not, so it becomes impossible for me to find any sympathy for anyone involved in the case. A pox on them all.

    RIP, young Mr. Brown. Fuck off, rioters and looters in Ferguson, and pretty much all media covering that shithole and this event. Fuck off governor Dumbass and your putrid response to this event that left dozens of buildings in ashes. Fuck you Mister Prosecutor for apparently guiding the grand jury down a path rather than letting them find their own. Fuck you, Ferguson police, for being typical thug cops.

    I hate people, and I’m tired of this case.

    1. Seconded.

      On the plus side, it’s driven me to ignore media and get some more work done.

      1. Your second sentence, yes. I’ve suspended my FB account (AGAIN) and turned off the news even more (I already haven’t watched local news for decades – now no CNN/FOX, any of the NBC’s, etc. etc. – none)

        1. Just wait until the next time someone shoots Trayvon. It won’t stop until the SJW scumbags are either ejected from the media or get their way and have privileged groups instead of individual liberty.

    2. Thirded, fourthef, and fifthed.

      To repeat myself from another thread: why can’t the fucking media actually run with one of the numerous incidents where the cops are legit crooked? They always pick the murkiest one and then go full retard when their narrative falls apart.

      But keep swinging that hammer, Sullum. Eventually you might be able to jam the square peg into the round hole.

      1. Because they wouldnt be able to herd us into the two desired camps.

      2. Corruption and racism aren’t the same thing.

        You can be a totally by the books cop and still be racist. Still do racist stuff. Still see Black people in a racist way that gets us killed.

        You can have a court system whose fees and tickets disproportionately harms Black people, and have it be legal. You can have a an all white city government, court system, police force in a mostly Black town setting up and maintaining that system and have it all be legal. Not a bit of corruption or law breaking in sight.

        This is why libertarian writing on criminal justice pretty much always sucks. You see racism, and mistake it for a problem with the law or a corruption of the law. But it’s really just racism, and it exists totally independently of either the law, or it’s corruption.

        You can change the laws, enforce them properly, get rid of them entirely, but the racism is still right there. And all the stuff you’re pointing to a legal problem stays just exactly the same.

        1. Legal does not equal corruption-free.

          Many laws, civil forfeiture, for example, are perfectly legal, may also be racist, but at their core are corrupt, in that they seek to maintain a system which is unconstitutional and wrong to the benefit of insiders seeking personal gain.

          Libertarians are for limiting the scope of government precisely so that these corrupt games can no longer be played on blacks and other citizens.

          1. When I said laws, I didn’t mean “all laws except for the constitution.” Things that are constitutional can be racist. The constitutions can be racist.

            And all the racist ‘games’ being played on Black people can be played with or without laws, with or without the constitution. Because once again, this behavior is not cause by the law, by the government, by he constitution, or with anything else apart from racism.

            1. Without these bad laws, Kodachrome, the police would not have a laundry list of potential justifications for initiating contact with the citizens in the first place. Take the current example of Ferguson, where blacks there are basically being used as an ATM for county revenue through traffic stops and resultant exorbitant fines. Cops are literally judged by the amount of revenue they pull in from such fines. Reform that fine structure and you will not have entirely solved the problem with blacks getting pulled over all the time, but you will have neutered one of the primary benefits to the state from the application of the policy, most likely resulting in fewer stops.

              Look at stop and frisk in NYC and other jurisdictions. Clearly unconstitutional, disproportionately involves blacks and Latinos, and results in hundreds of arrests each year as well as numerous deaths at the hands of the police.

              Take away a lot of this state power to stop and hassle, and you’ve gone a long way to ameliorating the disproportionate burden that non-whites bear in their interactions with the police.

              The racism among cops (at least those who are racist) will most likely still exist, but it won’t be as easy to apply to the citizens they patrol.

              1. You don’t know what you are talking about.
                Cops are NOT literally judged on how much revenue they bring in. There are numerous cases of misconduct that require the cop’s performance reviews to be made public. Can you imagine the hue and cry if the evaluation of good, or bad, was based on how many high-dollar tickets the officer wrote? In most cases, the cop’s department doesn’t get the funds, anyway. They go to the municipality’s “general fund”.
                That is a convenient meme, but it is false.

                1. Your response is a general one. But the post you are replying to seems to pretty well characterize conditions in Ferguson and other small communities in St. Louis County: http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..m-poverty/ . The point here is not so much that the police directly profit from the fines, but that there are numerous small municipal governments that continue to exist independently from one another while their tax bases vanish, so some are deriving half of their revenue from fines. It’s policing for profit, even though the profits are not directly going to the police.

                  Beyond that, there have been plenty of cases where evidence of ticket quotas have emerged even though officials have vehemently denied that they existed.

        2. This is why libertarian writing on criminal justice pretty much always sucks. You see racism, and mistake it for a problem with the law or a corruption of the law.

          It’s not a mistake and I don’t think you understand libertarianism. The law is inherently oppressive. You just seem to think some forms of oppression, or even just personal taste, are okay or justified while other forms of oppression are inherently vile, pervasive, and insidious.

    3. Is it just me or does Al Sharpton seem to be evolving into a bobblehead?

    4. You have pretty much stated my exact feelings about this.

      It’s going to go nowhere because white people aren’t going to find much sympathy for Brown given he had just robbed a convenience store and the white people who ARE defending him or just doing so because they need to prove how racially sensitive they are.

      Nothing will change.

  3. Wait a second here. A cop shot a black man? How come I haven’t heard about this yet?

    On a more serious note = perhaps the residents of Ferguson have reached a breaking point. Though the killing of Brown may/may not have been justified, it doesn’t matter to them. It isn’t the details of the situation that bothers them but the fact that someone who was young and unarmed was killed in the middle of the street. The police there certainly seem like shitbags, and the court system of cyclical arrests/fines doesn’t help.
    see Balko’s article

    We, as outsiders, can rationalize this and that, and debate without being too emotionally involved. Perhaps emotions have been riled up by outside agitators… but I would guess that such agitation wouldn’t work unless there is some underlying cause.

    1. I do pity those who live there and have to clean up.

      I’m thinking ahead a year. What’s it going to be like?

      Not a whole lot different, nor better, is my guess. Just even fewer bidnesses and more empty lots.

      Sad

      1. yep – was reminded of the Rodney King riots – not sure how much changed.

        1. In the long run, quite a bit has changed for the LAPD. My brother was a rookie during RK, and is a LT working in Homocide now. The LAPD does a lot better job of ‘community policing’ now than they did then.

          They talked about this some on TI last night.

        2. Hasn’t changed much since the 1960’s – that is when the blacks learned that they could riot and loot and they could get away with it. In fact, there would be people sympathetic in the media saying that the mob actions are somehow “justified”
          If you want to change the system – you do it as a responsible citizens not as uncivilized animals who don’t deserve to be in this country

          1. What has changed is the NG.
            During the Wattts Riot, they put the NG on the streets to enforce a curfew.
            They were FTMP ignored until some cretin in a Buick tried to run a roadblock at a major intersection around Midnight.
            A Guardsman manning a Jeep-mounted MaDeuce cut that Buick in two – and then everyone went home and the riot was over except for the mopping up.
            Guard Commanders don’t seem to have the same ROE’s now – and that’s the problem.
            Mobs only respect the “blade”, and the “whiff of grape”.

    2. Exactly. The reaction comes not from this case being uniquely egregious but from the community’s tolerance for a long history of police brutality (and bullshit excuses for it) reaching a breaking point. Add in the press conference from Monday night, which boils down to “fuck you all, nothing is going to change” and the rage we saw looks pretty much inevitable.

      Why, if I didn’t have so much trust in their good intentions, I might think the authorities wanted a violent protest to put their boots into. But that’s just silly! It’s not like it’s made them look better by comparison, or they announced the no-bill in a way that made riots more likely.

  4. In my opinion, you could just as easily argue that more grand juries should be run the way this one was: with all the evidence and witnesses provided to the grand jury members, instead of the completely one-sided “ham sandwich” sham that most grand juries are.

    1. Definitely. But when prosecutors continue running ham-sandwich indictments for everybody who’s not a member of their elite, is that really even an incremental improvement?

      1. I completely agree that it’s immoral to have one legal process for agents of the government and another one for “civilians”. The process should work the same for everyone.

    2. Prosecutors don’t bother with the grand jury if they don’t have enough evidence (or the evidence actually exonerates the accused).

      Grand juries can indict a ham sandwich because they’re most likely guilty, and the defense is probably thinking about plea bargains or cutting a deal.

      The prosecutor in this case was like Ponitus Pilate. He wanted to placate the mob and wash his hands. The mountain of evidence that should have not called for a GJ was shown to the GJ.

      This wasn’t a murder in which the killers makes some effort to act in secret. There were a whole bunch of witnesses nearby who got a real good look, in daylight. Wilson never should have been charged with nothing.

    3. agreed. Libertarians should be glad that the Grand Jury didn’t give in to Mob and mainstream media pressure to charge him

  5. Does the media suck, or what?

    1. most of it – yes

  6. Is there anybody who did not see this coming?

    1. yep – the statute on police shooting is pretty clear- the cop had abundant reason to believe that Brown was a imminent danger to the cop’s life and to society at large. That is a justifiable homicide.

      Bottom line – don’t attack cops – if you have a problem work it out later with the authorities – the courts and the internal affairs cops – they do bust bad cops on a pretty regular basis.

  7. The likelihood that Jacob Sullum would be acquitted if he faces a homicide charge in connection with the death of Michael Brown does not mean he should not be indicted.

    1. Well, except for the little detail that there is no debate over who killed Michael Brown.

      1. Michael Brown killed Michael Brown. He did that when he attacked the cop and tried to take his gun.

        That was his choice. The cop had no choice but to shoot him.

    2. If the grand jury doesn’t think he should be indicted, there is no indictment.

      Jacob Sullum doesn’t know the facts, the grand jury does. Tough shit for his anti-cop sentiments. Bigot.

      1. And Jacob Sollum understands the role of grand juries in our legal system, and you do not: to judge only whether there is a case for prosecution. Grand juries are not mini trials, they are one-sided affairs.

        It may be a lousy judicial system, but you are doing what authoritative fucks do all around the world — argue what you want instead of argue what is.

        1. Sorry, but this notion that strategically giving the jury “too many facts” is somehow a bad or untoward act is just completely preposterous to me. This is NOT like every other case. That’s the only reason it went to a GJ to begin with. Make no mistake, this is a prosecutor who wanted this mess to go away.

          But not because he loves him some cops…but because dragging this out for another two years would have yielded the exact same result and wasted a lot of time, energy, and money. The probable outcome of a trial seems unimportant to some of you…and certainly seems to completely escape the author.

          And yea, analyzing factors such as these is kind of what prosecutors are paid to do.

          1. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t even have gone to the prosecutor to make a decision, let alone the Grand Jury.
            Your average officer involved shooting goes before a review board, many places including civilians, and they decide if it was a “good shoot” or not. Even if declared a “bad shoot” it would only go to the prosecutor if intentional wrongdoing was shown.
            The Grand Jury decided what the prosecutor and the review board would have, as well. This would go down as a “good shoot”.

      2. Tough shit for his anti-cop sentiments. Bigot.

        Cops are not a morally protected class. They are wielders of arbitrary power, disliking them in general is not bigotry. It’s the height of reason and the triumph of freedom over statist superstition.

      3. A bigot is someone who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions. Are you suggesting that anyone who is suspicious of police is simply intolerant of the police’s supposedly “different opinions?”

        Maybe people are suspicious of police for good reason…

        1. Maybe people are suspicious of police for good reason…

          It might even have something to do with the perverse incentives that are structured into our law enforcement system… nahhhh ‘bigotry’ is much easier to claim.

  8. How crazy is Reason today? Grand juries always operate this way and have for millennia Avenue before William the Conqueror overrode the anarchist common law.

    1. Reason is chock full of police hating bigots. Police can never do good. They must always be presumed guilty as actors of the state.

      It’s the same kind of stupid hate some people have for employees of corporations. Jacob Sullum is a hatemongering bigot.

      1. And you are a boot-licking cop apologist who doesn’t understand the slightest bit about how grand juries are supposed to work; how they actually do work in civilian cases, and should work in cop cases, but do not when the prosecutor wants to game the system and turn the prosecution-only process into a mini trial where he is both prosecutor and defense attorney.

      2. Reason is chock full of police hating bigots. Police can never do good. They must always be presumed guilty as actors of the state.

        Let’s start with the fact that the police are a tax funded monopoly. We’ll end with the cozy relationship between LEOs, prosecutors and judges or maybe we should delve into the fact that police are enforcers of arbitrary decisions from amoral legislative bodies whose statutes routinely run roughshod over the ancient laws of liberty.

        1. There is no reasoning with sociopaths. The mild case of Stockholm Syndrome that infects police advocates is not something that can be cured with reason.

          1. They didn’t reason themselves into those beliefs so we can’t reason them out of it.

      3. I wouldn’t call them cop hating bigots, but when it comes to cops and immigration, Reason is somewhat blinded by ideology.

        Sullum was vigorous in his defense of George Zimmerman and exposing holes in the media’s coverage. But as the mob’s narrative on Wilson unraveled, Reason waltzed onto tangents like police militarization and perception of police from different races.

        In real life situations (not catharsis or a heated debate in a vacuum), most people probably have a neutral to positive experience of the police, especially in domestic dispute / violence incidents.

        More than half the nation have a favorable view of the police, but they have real issues with excessive force and how the police are held accountable. But I’m not going to indulge in over the top cop hating, no more than shaking in fear over getting shot by a gang member.

      4. agreed. And the first people they(police hating bigots) they call is the police when something goes wrong.

      5. You are exactly right, Lyle.

    2. This grand jury was nothing like a normal modern grand jury. In a normal modern grand jury, the prosecutor only presents evidence that points toward guilt, the accused doesn’t get to testify, the witnesses usually don’t testify and instead their stories are summarized by a cop who may or may not have interviewed them. The process usually takes about 30 minutes, not 22 days.

      1. Supposedly this is not true for every state. Federal grand juries are different from state ones.

        Missouri supposedly requires the prosecutor to show exculpatory evidence.

        If that’s true (I got it from a commenter at Bloomberg) then a whole lot of criticism of this grand jury fades away.

        Of course, the media isn’t interested in helping explain this, so we have to rely on internet comments.

        1. I’m researching this issue, and according to one website:

          “Now, most states have taken a modern view that a target of a Grand Jury is indeed entitled to have a prosecutor present exculpatory (or contradictory with the tendency to show innocence) evidence. Missouri is not one of those states. (State v. Easter, 661 S.W.2d 644 (1983)).”

      2. You do realize that the events surrounding the shooting are relevant as to whether the shooting was good or a crime committed. So you want those facts omitted so the only fact allowed was that Wilson shot Brown? Just because the facts exonerate the cop we should throw them out and have a useless show trial?
        Really?

    3. Exactly. I sat on one for months last summer. A “private” grand jury trial is standard. All cases presented to us were private- DUIs, shoplifters, bar fights, etc. Wilson didn’t get anything special in this not being public.

      1. agreed.
        Many people that post on this website are painfully ignorant on how government, the law and the police operate.
        Would be nice if they learned something about them BEFORE they post based solely on their hatred/distrust of these institutions.

      2. Grand Juries do not conduct “trials”, they conduct investigations and analysis to determine whether a trial is justified by the facts.
        They are a safeguard against a rogue prosecutor going all Torquemada on the citizenry.

  9. Disgusting commentary Mr. Sullum. So you don’t like how the grand jury? Tough fucking shit for you.

    You yourself say he would be acquitted because he acted in self defense. Get over it man!

    1. So you don’t like Jacob Sollum but do like the twisted results of a perverted grand jury session which came up with the cop-excusing result you wanted?

      Get over it man!

    2. LOL, this is the embodiment of unintelligent police sociopaths — “Fuck you, we got our way, eat shit!”

    3. It’s more than a little bit strange and disturbing to hear a libertarian seriously argue that someone should be put through a trial, even when there’s no chance of convicting him.

      The correct answer isn’t to try to make the legal system as unjust for cops as it is for the rest of us. The correct answer is to try to make the system MORE just for all the rest of us.

      1. The fact that there is probable cause indicates that there is most certainly a chance to convict him.

        But sure, making the justice system less unjust for cops really helps the progress toward a more just system for everyone. Sure. In your dreams.

        1. The fact that there is probable cause indicates that there is most certainly a chance to convict him.

          Isn’t probable cause the fuzzy pretext the police claim for searching your person or vehicle?

          IANAL, and I don’t know where you were taught to legalize at people, but you really need to find a different place to learn you how.

          1. Probable cause is the standard needed for a grand jury to issue an indictment.

        2. The grand jury found no probable cause, so why are you saying there is? They found that no crime was likely committed. You know, there is no reason the prosecutor could have just dropped the whole case and not brought it to a grand jury. The evidence clearly shows this was self defense against an attacker being pursued after a felony battery and attempted theft of a gun.

          1. This. The grand jury found no probable cause that a crime was committed. They probably would have if it were a civilian instead of Officer Wilson. And that’s because the folks at Reason have overlooked the fact that the law IS different for cops in this situation than for regular civilians.

            We can all argue whether that should be or not be, but it is what it is. If that was supposed to be the premise of the article, I sure missed it.

      2. I totally agree with you Mike.

        1. There you go Mike, you’ve totally won over the asshat contingent.

      3. The correct answer isn’t to try to make the legal system as unjust for cops as it is for the rest of us.

        Making it more ‘just’ for cops necessarily requires the elimination of judicial deference granted to cops.

        1. There is no “judicial deference”, per se. There are different laws for cops than civilians. Lobby your congressperson to change them if you believe those changes are necessary.

          1. So what exactly is the Missouri law that would allow for a cop to kill someone in a situation in which ordinary citizen would not be allowed to? I am not saying that Wilson should have been indicted and convicted, but I don’t think what you are saying has any bearing on the situation. Some people have cited a 70s law which authorized police to shoot fleeing felons, but that is essentially rendered moot by Tennessee v. Garner a few years later. Do you have something else in mind?

    4. I can all but hear your intense mouth-breathing.

  10. Sullum is exactly right. We should abandon the grand jury system in the states where it is still used and give prosecutors total discretion in bringing charges, particularly in highly publicized cases where the public has been whipped into media-induced blood lust (Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman, OJ Simpson, Darren Wilson, etc). Whatever the prosecutor wants, the prosecutor should get. Unless what the prosecutor wants doesn’t comport with the desires of an angry mob. In which case the prosecutor, in his capacity as a public servant, should cede to the desires of the angry mob, and shouldn’t be impeded in doing so by some antiquated system conceived by white slave holders over 100 years ago.

    1. Mr. Sullum didn’t think this one through. I think he thinks he’s not being racist and acting as some kind of white saint by saying that is most important for poor, uneducated blacks to need to understand the system isn’t rigged against them. What they need is to be less ignorant and understand how the law works, and that it will not always come down on the mob’s side just because the mob is black.

      1. Lyle, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.

    2. PM, JS didn’t call for the elimination of the GJ system, just for the fair application.

      GJ get lead around by the nose by prosecutors. It seems obvious to me that this GJ was lead to this conclusion by the prosecutor. If the little indian guy in the store had shot MB fifteen minutes earlier, I believe he’d have been indicted by this same GJ.

      And then found not guilty in trial.

    3. Prosecutors have total discretion in bringing charges because they completely and totally control the grand jury process. The only role of the grand jury to let the prosecutor act as if there was some impartial/objective check on his decision.

    4. You destroyed that strawman good for you.

    5. So you want one government official(a prosecutor) sole power to charge someone for a offense? Wow, how libertarian of you. Sounds like a Court of Star Chamber to me(not that you are likely to know what that means)

      I trust 12 citizens much more

  11. Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin would both still be alive if they just showed a little respect to people lawfully carrying guns. If these two young men wouldn’t have jumped Zimmermann or Wilson, they are alive today and this isn’t some cause celebre for our idiot and bigoted urban elites.

    1. Bootlickers will be bootlickers.

      How dare these young men get uppity with their betters. They should know better.

      1. If uppity means a felony assault on another individual then, yes, they shouldn’t be uppity with anyone, superior or not.

    2. Respect mah authoritah!

      Lyle you are a seriously twisted cop slurper!

      1. DEATFBIRSECIA| – and you are moron. anyone who thinks it is a good way to protest the police is to attack them and try to take their gun has no business posting on the internet due to lack of brainpower.

    3. or anyone. Obviously they didn’t respect anyone and that is what got them both killed.

      Trayvon killed Trayvon
      Brown killed Brown

      Both did it when they chose to attack someone that might be carrying a gun.

  12. There is plenty of room for reasonable doubt as to whether Wilson broke the law when he shot and killed Brown, and there is considerable evidence that he did?surely enough to supply probable cause, the standard for charging someone with a crime.

    What is the considerable evidence? The eyewitness testimony is almost useless, especially that which came from someone who was later found to be the accomplice in Brown’s strongarm robbery.

    1. That’s the exact reason why some public trial was necessary to sort out the evidence. The prosecutor turned the grand jury into something it should not ever be — a mini trial with himself playing the dual and conflicting roles of prosecutor and defense attorney.

      1. a mini trial with himself playing the dual and conflicting roles of prosecutor and defense attorney.

        That is unfortunately how modern grand juries work. But what a grand jury is actually supposed to do, is decide if the evidence warrants a trial, which at the very least is better than leaving it purely up to prosecutorial discretion. At least now he has to jump through decorative hoops to make that happen, which isn’t enough and it’s a basatardization of the common law tradition grand juries represent, but it’s something.

        1. No, this grand jury is nothing like how modern grand juries work. In a normal modern grand jury, the prosecutor only presents evidence that points toward guilt, the accused doesn’t get to testify, the witnesses usually don’t testify and instead their stories are summarized by a cop who may or may not have interviewed them. The process usually takes about 30 minutes, not 22 days.

          1. No, this grand jury is nothing like how modern grand juries work. n a normal modern grand jury, the prosecutor only presents evidence that points toward guilt, the accused doesn’t get to testify, the witnesses usually don’t testify and instead their stories are summarized by a cop who may or may not have interviewed them.

            Witness testimony or any relevant testimony is a type of evidence that can be presented to grand juries. Were witnesses directly presented to the grand jury or just their testimony?

            What I was actually responding to was this comment:

            a mini trial with himself playing the dual and conflicting roles of prosecutor and defense attorney.

            And my response is that this is how a prosecutor acts in any case where the defendant and prosecutor are on the same team.

            A grand jury is ostensibly a 3rd party body whose purpose is to check the discretion of the prosecutor, which is an insurmountable task when the prosecutor is the sole link between the grand jury and the facts of the case. That’s exactly the problem with modern grand juries.

            The process usually takes about 30 minutes, not 22 days.

            Most cases aren’t usually blown up and distorted 100 different ways by media outlets and SJW tweeters.

          2. “the accused doesn’t get to testify”

            Wrong.

            The accused, not being able to be represented by counsel at a grand jury, typically declines to testify.

            But nothing bars an accused from testifying.

            1. In Indiana the accused has the right to address the Grand Jury and has the right to counsel, though counsel may not address the Grand Jury. I do not know the GJ rules in Missouri.

            2. And Darren Wilson, the apparent target, did testify sans counsel.

          3. You are wrong. The accused does get to testify, it is just that their lawyer can’t be there to “protect” the client and the lawyer, usually, doesn’t want to take that risk. It’s part of the “right to remain silent” thing.

        2. what you describe is not preferable to what actually happened in this case. It’s why ham sandwiches get indicted.

          1. This, also. This has gone completely over the heads of the author and commenters.

            The author basically says, “I hate ham sandwich indictments, but in this case, it should happen”.

            Not consistent, to say the least.

            1. Johnathan Turley, liberal law professor, stated that the main complaint about “normal” grand juries is that they don’t do what was done, here.
              To some, doing it right, in certain cases, is wrong.

            2. One might say that one hates “ham sandwich indictments”, but that one hates disparate, favorable treatment of police even more. I might want everyone to get free donuts, but that doesn’t mean that it bothers me less if the donut shop only gives them to cops.

    2. There were multiple accounts of eyewitness testimony, and the striking fact is that they all corroborate each other. The testimony of two witnesses is true. Wilson is the only testifier to his own account. That should be damning evidence.

      1. “they all corroborate each other”

        No, they do not. Mostly they agree on certain aspects, and they disagree on certain aspects. You can look at the documents yourself if you want: http://www.nytimes.com/interac……html?_r=0

      2. Stop lying.

  13. Technically, Jacob is correct. Would not have made a bit of difference, however, as a trial jury would have found him not guilty, so. same result. None of the protesters would care a bit and none of them would understand the difference if it was a grand jury or trial jury.

    1. Remember when all the white people burned down their communities and destroyed private property after OJ got acquitted?

      1. No, that was when Detroit* won the World Series in 1984, and East Lansing after every Michigan State Big 10 Championship.

        *it weren’t brothers burnin’ po po cars and trashing the D in ’84 – it was suburban whiteys for the most part

        1. No, that was when Detroit* won the World Series in 1984, and East Lansing after every Michigan State Big 10 Championship.

          Irrational sports fans weren’t rioting in the name of ‘social justice’ however, nor were they a racially specific group, especially in the case of a university renowned for it’s racist admissions policies.

        2. “it weren’t brothers burnin’ po po cars and trashing the D in ’84 – it was suburban whiteys for the most part”

          Absolutely, 100%, Wrong. In every way.

          I still live here, remember what happened, and other than a couple of well-placed camera shots, it was overwhelmingly inner-city blacks who were burning and rioting.

          So tell me another one.

  14. It is entirely possible he got a friendly prosecution because officer Wilson had not done anything wrong. Maybe the prosecutors reinforced Wilson’s defense because all the evidence led to that conclusion?

    1. Possible… but not likely. Wilson did something wrong whether or not Brown actually assaulted him. Wilson’s own actions incited the circumstances that day that lead to Brown’s death. It was Wilson who violated protocol by backing his vehicle into the two young men and then trying to apprehend one of them from his vehicle. It was Wilson who violated protocol by exiting his vehicle to pursue a fleeing Brown, firing shots at him as he was running away. Wilson was not defending himself. He was on the hunt.

      1. “firing shots at him as he was running away”

        Mmmmm – Ima have to go look at the transcript again, but I recall that testimony indicated this did NOT happen.

        No, fuck it – I don’t care, I’m done with this case…

        1. You recall wrong, then. Testimony indicated it did happen.

          1. Wilson was not defending himself. He was on the hunt.

            Did the testimony indicate this happening?

            I don’t know Wilson and I he gives every indication of being a bully, a coward, or both. But I get the distinct impression that his trial, left in your hands, would be no more or less impartial than the one put on by McCulloch.

          2. ONE witness says Wilson fired as Brown was running away. All the other witnesses stated that Brown had at the very least stopped and turned.

            Seriously, if you’re going to make statements about the case, you might want to at least try to be somewhere vaguely near the truth.

            1. I have to correct myself: two witnesses said that, not one. But there were, as I said, other witnesses who stated that Brown had turned, and the forensic evidence suggests that Brown had turned.

              1. Thank you I was confused on this point. Wilson was probably a stupid incompetent cop but I doubt he’s primarily at fault for this incident. I don’t care for how many shots he took but it’s too ambiguous.

              2. To be completely accurate, the forensic evidence indicates that Brown was hit after he had turned. It gives no indication when shots that didn’t hit him were fired.

            2. He’s speaking revolutionary truth.

              That trumps actual truth.

          3. nope all shots were fired at Brown’s front of body, none at his back

            Stop with the misinformation and lies.

            1. Not all of the bullets hit Brown. It is possible, but I would say not likely, that the first string of shots were fired as Brown was running away, and that they all missed, and the second string was fired after he turned, and some or all hit.

      2. He didn’t back the vehicle into them, and he did not try to apprehend them from the vehicle. He merely backed up and told them to get out of the road. It was then that Brown attacked him through the open window, punching him in the face, and grabbed for the gun that discharged. You are an idiot if you think there is some police protocol that requires that cops remain in their vehicles. He shot Brown in the front, as shown by physical evidence and eyewitnesses (of all races), because Brown charged him. His story fits all the credible evidence. It doesn’t fit rumors like the ones you spread but you are just some moron who doesn’t know what he is talking about.

        1. The ‘Brown charged him’ part of the story is weakly supported at best but the rest is true.

          1. completely true -autopsy evidence supports all of the cops story. All bullets fired at Brown hit him in the front – none in the back.

            1. Once again, not “all bullets fired at Brown” hit him at all. Some missed. Possibly–though not likely–the first string of shots fired missed Brown as he was fleeing, and some or all of the next volley hit him after he had turned.

          2. Blood trail 25 feet farther away from the cop, after Brown fell, shows he moved in the cop’s direction.
            Not weakly supported, at all.

        2. Uh,no. Wilson drove by and told them to get out of the road then he realized Brown fit the description of the store robber and that’s when he backed up and confronted Brown. Wilson also admitted he is the one who pulled out his gun and Brown grabbed it to prevent being shot.

          1. Wilson also admitted he is the one who pulled out his gun and Brown grabbed it to prevent being shot.

            Yes, and that got Brown killed. What’s your point?

            1. If the first shot Wilson had fired, while he was in his car and Brown was grabbing for his gun, had been the one that killed Brown, you would be right. But if he was shot outside of the car for grabbing Wilson’s gun a few seconds before, rather than because Wilson felt he was in grave danger at the moment that he shot Brown, then that was revenge, not self-defense.

    2. “the prosecutors running the show often seemed to be reinforcing Wilson’s defense, as when they suggested that marijuana-induced psychosis might account for the ferocious attack that Wilson says he suffered at Brown’s hands and for the heedless charge that Wilson says forced him to shoot Brown over and over again.”

      Prosecutors trying to explain why the defendant is not guilty.

      Don’t see that every day, now do you?

      Wonder why?

      1. Wonder why?

        The only reason he went to the grand jury is because of political pressure. Ordinarily, the prosecutor wouldn’t even have take the case to the grand jury.

        1. Yes, that’s the real problem here: the prosecutor was gutless, so he hid behind the grand jury.

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  16. Reason is losing my interest, support, respect. The Grand Jury operated as intended to determine if there was enough evidence to convict and to bring to trail. All of these armchair legal and lethal force experts including this writer and Reason in general are spouting BS. The legal system is not designed to pacify the mob. The issue in Ferguson is not about the officer shooting a teenager but overwhelming evidence that black men in particular are the cause of MOST of the crime in the United States and in particular Brown was a hoodlum that escalated the incident. If he just got out of the street he would have been alive today.

    1. Drink!

    2. That comment of yours was a long stupid way to dodge Sullum’s point.

      1. Your rank dishonesty is a stupid way to discredit Sullum’s point.

        But it is an effective one…

      2. Sullum has no point to dodge. He just doesn’t like the outcome so he attacks the system instead of confronting the fact that he(Sullum) had a problem with authority.

    3. agreed and many of the stories and posters are increasingly SOCIALISTS. If i wanted to read socialist propaganda i would be on the Huffington Post.

  17. I couldn’t disagree more. Prosecutors shouldn’t be spending time and money on cases that won’t result in a conviction. The fact that overly zealous prosecutors have trumped up charges for politically correct reasons (for example in the Duke Lacrosse case) does not mean it is the right thing to do. The overzealous Duke Lacrosse prosecutor destroyed the lives of many innocent men, and political correctness should not be a motivating factor in bringing anyone to trial. If Darren Wilson were black, the prosecutor wouldn’t have indicted him due to the ample evidence for self-defense. Why should he do anything different in this case?

    1. Mark, you are spot on!

    2. Exactly. The Zimmerman case was in the same category. These cases were pushed for political reasons rather than any sense of justice.

    3. So how much did the hours and hours of grand jury testimony and deliberation cost, as opposed to the prosecutor finding enough guts to just say “no charges will be filed”? The grand jury simply served the purpose of protecting the prosecutor.

  18. So-called libertarians now argue like liberals. “The ONLY explanation…” Seriously Mr. Sullum? You don’t get the result you want or expect, so you assume bad faith or incompetence on the part of those charged with making the decision. The Grand Jury examined all the evidence and found no probable cause that a crime had been committed. Do you not believe that Brown attacked Wilson? Most of the witnesses and all the physical evidence said so. Honestly you would be much happier on the left where ignoring facts is the norm. Go away and stop pretending to be a libertarian. You are a libertine anarchist.

    1. The Grand Jury examined all the evidence

      That’s the problem RTFA.

      Sure are a lot of dumb LAW N ORDA conservaderps coming out to aggressively showcase their own stupidity.

      1. You keep saying RTFA, yet having RTFA I still find nothing of substance.

        Tell you what, why don’t you RTFA and copypasta the key points you think make Sullum’s argument stick?

  19. So-called libertarians now argue like liberals. “The ONLY explanation…” Seriously Mr. Sullum? You don’t get the result you want or expect, so you assume bad faith or incompetence on the part of those charged with making the decision. The Grand Jury examined all the evidence and found no probable cause that a crime had been committed. Do you not believe that Brown attacked Wilson? Most of the witnesses and all the physical evidence said so. Honestly you would be much happier on the left where ignoring facts is the norm. Go away and stop pretending to be a libertarian. You are a libertine anarchist.

    1. It’s also ridculous because Robert McCulloch and his chain of command are all democrats, and he was on Obama’s “Truth Squad”. If anything one should question why this was brought to a grand jury at all. He didn’t even have to do that.

      1. It’s also ridculous because Robert McCulloch and his chain of command are all democrats, and he was on Obama’s “Truth Squad”.

        What’s ridiculous is implying this is more important than McCulloch’s long history of serving police interests.

        1. You nailed it this time! McCulloch clearly didn’t believe that charges should be pressed, whether because of the facts of the case or because of his cozy relationship with the police (which is not shocking given his job). But he didn’t have the guts to decline to press charges, so he hid behind the grand jury.

  20. The funny thing is, libertarians used to attack the grand jury system because prosecutors routinely abuse it by selectively presenting evidence, the so-called “ham sandwich” argument. Now Sullum is complaining because the prosecutor did NOT abuse the system in order to get a marginal indictment. The hypocrisy is rank.

    1. The argument is that he did abuse the system, by using the GJ in a completely different way than he would have if the defendent were a civilian.

      1. so he was right, but for the wrong reasons so it doesn’t count.

        1. What he should have done was not bring the case to the grand jury, but simply decline to press charges, since he clearly either didn’t believe that charges were warranted, or he didn’t want to upset his cop buddies–or both. But lacking the courage to do that, he took it to the grand jury and clearly tried really hard to prosecute Wilson.

          The last part of that last sentence is sarcasm.

    2. The funny thing is, libertarians used to…

      I know this may come as a big surprise to you, but libertarians aren’t the Borg: different libertarians actually hold different opinions and views on various subjects, even though they may agree that more individual liberty and more free market mechanisms are generally preferable.

    3. so is stupidity. Most of the arguments are circular or just plain silly and hypocritical.

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  23. This article is 180 degrees wrong. Robert McCulloch is a democrat and was on Obama’s “Truth Squad”. His superior and superior’s superior are democrats. There is zero evidence this was about “friendly prosecutors”. This grand jury presentation is being hailed as one of incredible integrity by judges and lawyers. The grand jury came to the right decision here (unlike with Zimmerman) and decided that there was not enough evidence to ever convict him of a crime that was NOT committed. This was self defense from a criminal attacker who just got done committing a robbery and roughing up a store clerk, then assaulting a police officer and attempting to take his gun.

    1. More BS. McCulloch was a police toady.

    2. FYI, George Zimmerman did not face a grand jury. His persecutor, Angela Corey had the option to empanel a grand jury, but chose not to, in order to better cater to the mob.

      She put Zimmerman through a trial when it was clear at the very beginning that no conviction was possible.

      The trial jury did its job and found Zimmerman not guilty. And the left and their racist lobbies have never accepted that verdict either.

  24. When Rodney King had a jury trial, it didn’t seem to help.

    Why should we ignore the Constitutional PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE to the police officer just because it is a visible and media-charged case?

    Does the new standard of justice then allow for 2 systems of justice – one for cases that the Communist party and the race traffickers attack, and another for cases they decide not worth their attention? In 28 years – the ONLY thing the prosecutor did differently was not to recommend a specific charge.

    Is the author also saying that these 9 jurors were ignorant, gullible or coerced? This was an EXPERIENCED Grand Jury that had already sat on indictments in other cases.

    I think the author exposes his own bias in protesting the impact of intoxication which was DOUBLE the limit in Oregon. Does he deny that not only does being stoned impairs one judgement but that it could not have had an influence on an admitted violent teen?

    When a CNN reporter reports on air that she is SHOCKED to find out a black witness came forward to “to the truth” in knowledge that the other witnesses were friends of the victim and were planning to railroad him – I’m not so sure what physical evidence would be left for probable cause.

    1. I’m sorry, just when was Rodney King put in the dock for his actions?
      The only thing I remember is that the City/State gave him a couple Mil due to his victim status.

  25. Should every man who kills someone is self defense face a trial? The prosecutor has discretion and so does a grand jury. This man is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The proof isn’t there. I think these “reason” bloggers/contributors should return to the Constitution instead of the mob.

  26. Why do grand juries even exist? On another article a Reason author posted statistics that something like 99.99% of federal grand jury trials result in indictment. So, in other words, grand juries are a complete waste of time. The outcome is whatever the prosecutor wanted in the first place (which is obviously indictment most of the time), so just skip them and go directly to trial.

    1. Why do grand juries even exist?

      Grand juries came out of common law as a 3rd party check on a prosecutor’s discretion.

      On another article a Reason author posted statistics that something like 99.99% of federal grand jury trials result in indictment. So, in other words, grand juries are a complete waste of time.

      Well the grand jury system, as it currently is, is a useless gesture on the federal level. Statutes that override common law tradition regarding grand juries have corrupted them from their original purpose, into becoming pets of the prosecutor whose functional purpose is to legitimize the prosecutor’s broad discretion. It’s particularly bad at the federal level because the federal government itself is particularly heavy handed and unrestrained in it’s subversion of legitimate law.

      1. Thanks for answer. It appears they are now nothing more than show-trials.

    2. Why do grand juries even exist?

      To prevent citizens from getting dragged into court unreasonably.

      On another article a Reason author posted statistics that something like 99.99% of federal grand jury trials result in indictment. So, in other words, grand juries are a complete waste of time.

      No, that does not follow at all. The existence of the grand jury means that prosecutors will only prosecute cases they can actually get past the grand jury and that they can reasonably expect to win.

      The only reason this case added to the 0.01% is because for political reasons, it went to the grand jury. Without all the press attention, Wilson’s case wouldn’t even have gone before a grand jury because the prosecutor already knew that an indictment was unlikely and a conviction was pretty much impossible.

  27. If the author is going to make baseless insinuations like this, then perhaps he should either know what he is talking about, or present some evidence that the prosecutor was out of line in presenting his case to the grand jury.

    It is true that the prosecution will generally not present as much evidence as McCullough presented here. The reason for this is that the prosecution does not want to expose their entire case to the defense. The author concludes that “the only explanation” for the amount of evidence presented was that the prosecutor was deliberately trying to confuse the grand jury into thinking that the they were there to make a determination of guilt & innocence.

    So what evidence does the author have of this? I practiced criminal law in California for 10 years, and very specific instructions are given to grand juries, not the least of which is a crystal clear explanation that they are not there to determine guilt/innocence. I am certain that Missouri has similar instructions. Moreover, the prosecution is bound by rules that defense attorneys are not. If McCullough were to deliberately mislead the grand jurors, he would be exposing himself to possible disbarment if he were to do so. The author does not present a single piece of evidence on how the grand jury was instructed.

    For the life of me, I do not understand why Reason would engage in wild, unfounded insinuations like this. It completely lacks intellect, and frankly, is a poor excuse for journalism.

    1. Because a cop is the defendant in this case. Were this a law-abiding, regular citizen, we wouldn’t have had to read any of this.

      Just compare the coverage of the Zimmerman mess, and this one, and you’ll see all you need to know.

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  29. Yea, this is a bad piece of writing.

    A prosecutor is never, ever going to gain conviction where the witness accounts are conflicting to this degree. It would be virtually impossible to surpass the threshold of reasonable doubt…regardless of whether or not probable cause could be shown by a more strategic presentation to the GJ.

    His mission is not to get the government into winning “impossible trials”…and as (largely) libertarians, we should certainly appreciate that. This idea that the prosecutor is obligated to pursue every case with the same tactics, or even with the same vigor in every situation…is kind of silly.

    If these two parties were of the same ethnicity, and all other facts and testimonies were identical, it’s highly doubtful that this would have sniffed a GJ at all. Let’s be honest. Had this gone to trial, it would have been a complete failure of a conviction, and the “social result” would have been the same.

    1. Right. So one could argue that if the prosecutor had any guts, he would have simply declined to charge, and saved the grand jury the effort, and the taxpayers the money, of participating in an elaborate charade to protect him from the consequences of doing his job.

  30. Get over it already. The videos show that Brown deserved what he got!

    1. The only “video” is of Brown (most likely) robbing a convenience store; that crime, while not minor, is not usually punished with death.

      The other actions that transpired, which may have warranted the use of lethal force, are not on video.

  31. Just want to point out that since it took 9 votes some of the charges could have been 8 to 4 to indict.

  32. Sullum’s sullied silliness only impresses those who know nothing about the law, i.e. most Americans, so he’ll get away with it, only despised by those of us who know he’s a depraved liar, thankfully unlike those who rightly refused to return an indictment since they’re not so delusionally racist, the new “black” KKK to which Sullum et al adhere, trying Wilson apart from our judicial system in the pervert press like the similarly lawless & fascist 0bamanation does.

  33. Dumbest article I have read today. This was the biggest slam dunk,open/shut case ever and you dumbasses just have to keep trying to manufacture conspiracies and chaos.

    IF YOU CAN CONCLUDE HE WOULD BE ACQUITTED THERE IS NO REASON TO GO TO TRIAL.

    Weapons grade stupid ……..Jacob Sullum

    1. IF YOU CAN CONCLUDE HE WOULD BE ACQUITTED THERE IS NO REASON TO GO TO TRIAL.

      That is not how a grand jury functions. It amazes me to no end how many people come on here to lecture about the law and fundamentally do not understand the difference between an indictment and a conviction.

      1. Agreed.

        I’ve never conducted a grand jury hearing, because in our state courts, the prosecutor’s charge and then we have a Preliminary Examination to determine whether there is probable cause.

        However, after conducting many, many Preliminary Exams, I’m a little befuddled at what happened here. At our Prelims, if factual matters are disputed, they go to a jury for resolution. As long as there is simply evidence for each element of a crime — and not even a preponderance of evidence — that is enough to proceed. Even when it’s a case that is almost sure to lose at trial.

        1. Basically, this matter had two points of decision: the prosecutor’s discretion and the petit jury of a full trial.

          Your description of a preliminary exam sounds exactly like a grand jury hearing except without the jury. There was never any doubt as to the fact that Wilson killed Brown. That is prima facie evidence of manslaughter. The grand jury should have taken roughly 5 seconds after hearing this fact to conclude that the indictment is upheld.

          However, if the prosecutor felt that an acquittal was almost certain, then he should never have presented the indictment. This whole thing turned into a farce and a mockery of the process because the prosecutor wanted to put on a show yet had no intention of actually following through with a full trial.

          1. Hmm, upon further reading, especially of the Missouri laws governing grand juries (Chapter 540 of the Missouri Code), it appears that grand juries in Missouri have a broader charge than what I originally represented.

            This grand jury proceeding might be seen as a farce outside of Missouri, but I would have to be a Missouri lawyer to really pass any judgment as to whether or not it was a mockery of the process in that state.

          2. I’m not familiar with Missouri’s case law or with their court rules, but yeah, there seems enough here to warrant a trial if the prosecutor really thought there were questions for the jury to decide.

            If this went to Prelim where I practiced, it almost surely would have gone to trial — a waste of everyone’s time, too, since there clearly was room for reasonable doubt. But I’ve dealt with cases like that, and they’re headaches. The prosecution gets to present its side, and if there is evidence of each element, then it goes toward binding the case over for trial. If there is exculpatory evidence, it is considered “a factual matter” for the jury to decide. So the prosecutor, based on the flimsiest evidence, can carry a bullshit case all the way to trial because the supposed safeguards are effectively window dressing.

            I had two cases like those in the past two years, and both of them were massively frustrating. They never would’ve survived scrutiny at trial, but in one case, the defendant finally got scared and tired of waiting, and agreed to a plea despite my advice to take it to trial. In the second case, the defendant also got cold feet at the end and disappeared.

            It’d be nice if more grand juries and prelims considered all the evidence and practiced with this level of scrutiny. The fact that the grand jury in this case did is the strangest thing about the story. And while I think this was a good decision, it is nevertheless still quite a departure from normal procedure.

          3. That is prima facie evidence of manslaughter.

            Are you nuts? There are plenty of justifiable homicide cases that never get past the DA. This was one of them but the DA punted to keep people like you quiet yet you still want an indictment.

            1. The point is that if the DA didn’t want an indictment, he shouldn’t have sought one just to protect himself.

  34. I’m sorry, you don’t indict someone for the sole reason of making someone else, or some group, feel better. The preponderance of evidence which I have seen/heard indicates that the episode proceeded in the manner in which Ofc Wilson described, and that sequence supports his use of deadly force.

    To indict him so that another gets some feeling of a public airing first of all tilts the Grand Jury system on its head, and exposes a man who by all reasonable accounts is innocent to the possibility of a wild jury ignoring the facts to satify a bloodlust and wrongly convcting him.

    Further, even if acquitted he would emerge from a trial deeply in debt. He does not deserve that because the Grand Jury is not good enough for some, primarily because their minds were made up before the jury convened.

    I’ll stipulate that blacks in this country still face some institutional racism, and that is an opinion I was reluctant to accept. But that said, the two most recent hyper-public episodes (Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown) were poor examples to use, as both were essentially young punks looking for trouble, whose actions were directly attributable for their own deaths.

    You want to justify some anger? Find a Rosa Parks, even if it is as staged as Ms. Parks bus seat tiff.

    1. “The preponderance of evidence which I have seen/heard indicates that the episode proceeded in the manner in which Ofc Wilson described”
      Of course it did because 1- Wilson never filed a police report on the day of the event as required by MO law and 2- he was fed over the three months what the testimony of the witnesses would be so his story would match.

      1. And your authority for this is?

  35. Waiting for Reason to write a story explaining that Mike Brown was the bad guy here, and that attacking a cop and trying to take his gun just might get you shot. Any chance that story is coming?

    1. Not in this decade, at least.

    2. Wilson testified that HE pulled out his gun and attempted to shoot Brown at the SUV. Brown grab the gun because he didn’t want to get shot.

      1. The simple response to not wanting to get shot, would have been to stop being aggressive, becoming passive and responsive to the commands of the cop.
        Since he did neither, he got shot in the struggle.
        He then could have just run away, but no, he had to continue the confrontation, and got shot some more, attaining a ‘dirt nap’.

    3. no – so much anti establishment hatred obviously keeps the website and its writers from any objectivity. – thought that only came from socialists – but I guess I was wrong

  36. That would have been an immense waste of taxpayer monies.
    And your ‘private trial’ remark is so far off base that it’s in another Galaxy.

  37. “Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a nationally syndicated columnist”

    And not entirely rational.

    1. nor is he sane or educated on how the law actually works .

  38. It is unfortunate that the author did not read the transcript of the testimony. When you combine the witness testimony as well as the physical evidence, sending Wilson to a trial would have been a travesty. Only someone sitting in the comfort of their home, relying on the Wilsons of the world to protect them from thugs like Brown, could advocate putting a brave man who puts his life on the line every day to the trauma and expense of a trial for killing someone who tried to kill him.

    1. Since when does a brave man kill an unarmed 18-year-old who’s not all that much bigger than him?

  39. “There is plenty of room for reasonable doubt as to whether Wilson broke the law …”

    That’s exactly the type of case that shouldn’t even be brought to a grand jury.

  40. It is not hard to see how the grand jurors could have made that mistake.

    Because after they waded through 70h of testimony from 60 witnesses, you still think you are better qualified and informed to make that decision than they are?

    The grand jury did exactly what it was supposed to do here, namely prevent people from getting dragged into court for reasons other than legal guilt or innocence.

    1. The grand jury probably did come to the correct conclusion. But it also seems pretty clear that the prosecutor didn’t actually want them to hand down an indictment, so why go through the trouble and expense in the first place? I’d submit that he used the grand jury to protect him from the consequences of making the decision himself. The jury is designed to protect the public from overzealous prosecutors, not to protect prosecutors from negative reactions from the public.

  41. Bullhockey. THIS is a libertarian point of view? Is this how you would like a member of your family treated by the State? If the GJ was told the proper standard of proof and did not indict, then justice has been done.

  42. A person should be charged only if:
    1. There is probable cause, considering all of the available evidence, that the person committed the crime.
    2. The prosecutors who will handle the case (knowing facts the jury will never be allowed to hear) believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. It is immoral to try and convince a jury of something you do not believe yourself.
    3. The prosecutors handling the case believe there is a reasonable probability of conviction. If not, the State should continue to try to develop a case.

    The commentary on this case, including this by Sullum, makes me sick.

    1. “considering ALL of the available evidence”

      Exactly. The idea that prosecutors should ignore exculpatory evidence and bias the jury into thinking there is a case, is a travesty of justice. Yet that’s the running theme in the column and the comments.

    2. If the prosecutor is convinced that charges should be brought, then their job is to make that case to the grand jury. If the prosecutor does not believe that charges should be brought, isn’t it unethical for them to bring charges in the first place, as per your second point?

  43. I’m by no means happy that Wilson panicked and emptied his pistol, even under circumstances in which a civilian might panic, and in a well-run police department there would be a genuine hearing about whether he should still have a job. But you don’t indict people for murder when you know it wasn’t murder and you don’t have a prayer of convicting, and if the Zimmerman trial taught us anything, it is when you accede to the mob and try the guy anyway, and inevitably fail to convict, when it’s all over, all the same people will still be screaming for his head and at the “injustice” of it all. On any other occasion Sullum and Reason would be admiring a grand jury that didn’t indict a ham sandwich. I get it, that there are real problems that have to be addressed, and they have to be addressed every day. But when you try to bring real problems in by the back door of a fake case, you only do harm.

    1. If you choose to shoot, you shoot until they go down and stay down. You have no idea how badly you have hurt someone with a handgun until the shooting is over. Focusing on “emptied his pistol” leads nowhere. The question is always whether or not the FIRST shot was justified.

      1. Correct. The purpose is to STOP them, not KILL them. Unfortunately sometimes it does kill, but that is not the reason.

        And you keep shooting till the attacker is not a threat anymore.

    2. Nonsense. If the first bullet is justified, even a second may not be. Depends a lot on what the first bullet does.

      One must fire as often as necessary, and sometimes may not know when it’s safe to stop. Sure. But one may also just panic and empty the pistol, with a real chance of hitting non-combatants and missing the target.

      Whether Wilson blindly “emptied his pistol” is a proper focus — while “Wilson should be indicted” or “Brown deserved to die” are not.

      I am rather persuaded by Stephen Hunter’s assessment of a panic shoot– http://www.powerlineblog.com/a…..rguson.php — “When I look at the shot placement . . . I infer the officer is firing as fast as he can pull the trigger without aiming, but merely pointing; he’s not looking at his sights (crucial to aiming) but at the man oncoming. . . even if he observed the effect of the fifth shot, he was unable to command his trigger finger to halt before firing the sixth.”

      By all means, read it all. There is much with which we would both agree. And I’m sure that Hunter would be prepared to modify his view depending on information that has subsequently come out. But in the end, Could and should Wilson have done better? is not only a valid question, it’s the only question, and a fair hearing on it would bring out all the facts people claim they want aired.

      Whether to indict, contra Sullum, doesn’t even belong on the table.

      1. Close quarter defensive shooting never involves aiming in the sense like you aim when shooting a target pistol. You don’t have time.

        You point in the direction of center mass and try to hold the pistol on target as you pull the trigger as fast as you reasonably can while adjusting for the muzzle rise that is especially prevalent in short barreled combat type pistols. He probably only really aimed through his sights on the first shot and that didn’t put Brown down.

  44. Whoa… the GJ is there to here evidence that could force a trial.

    The prosecutor, while they can produce only evidence that makes the defendant look bad, can also produce any and all evidence.

    I dislike the idea the prosecutor is supposed to HIDE evidence, or not allow evidence collected by the police that is favorable to the defendant!

    The prosecutor should put ALL the evidence on the table they have collected,good or bad, and if enough to charge ’em, then charge them.

    Don’t make the GJ a way to force obviously innocent people go to trial.

    1. I distinctly recall Dershowitz lambasting Angela Coreu for doing exactly what Sullum urges in the Zimmerman case.

      1. And Sullum complained about that for Zimmerman, if I’m not mistaken.

  45. Am I reading this right, a Reason editor is upset because a prosecutor didn’t withhold information from a grand jury in order to finagle felony charges he knew he would never be able to prove against a defendant?

    Has Jacob gotten a gig at MSNBC or something?

    1. Now THAT is a great and funny comment.

    2. agreed – very twisted”logic” if you want to call it that.

  46. I didn’t notice Sullum offering to pay for Wilson’s defense even though Sullum expects Wilson to be acquitted.. It was probably just an oversight.

    This has to be the poorest excuse for libertarian thinking I have ever run across. Sure, he is not guilty, but let’s run up some big bills for him to pay as well as putting his live on hold for another year or two. Great thinking, Sullum.

    1. ^^This. “The process is the punishment.”

  47. I was under the mistaken understanding that Reason was a libertarian site, not a fascist one. Always disappointing when libertarians suddenly decide that tyranny is a good idea after all.

    Time for Sullum to find another outlet for his statism (perhaps The New Republic is hiring.)

  48. “Depends a lot on what the first bullet does.”

    Yes, and if the shootee does not go down, the shooter keeps shooting. This is not TV. The handgun user shoots at center mass until the threat is over, and all of this happened in less than 2 seconds, I have little doubt. No rational police officer wants to shoot anyone. It is ALWAYS a disaster for the officer.

    1. Guess you didn’t read any further than the quoted line.

  49. I’m going to be as polite as possible, despite your completely idiotic opinion. The grand jury process exists to protect us from fools such as you, both idiots who get caught up in the emotion of a supposed crime and wish to sic the dogs of the State upon the alleged criminal and self-aggrandizing DA’s who see an opportunity to ride a politicized case into higher office. Even the most innocent man can be destroyed by an vengeful State without some restriction on their ability to drag a person into court and try them for whatever they wish.

    In other words, the grand jury did *exactly* what our founding fathers intended. Take your pitchforks and your torches and slink back to your home, because the ‘justice’ that you crave is no justice at all. A young man who made several tragic decisions is dead. A police officer who was assaulted with deadly force is alive, placed in harms way by his duty and saved from death or injury by his training and his equipment, which included a gun. As much as you may regret the first, give thanks for the second. Far too many officers placed in danger by criminals wind up paying the ultimate price for our safety.

  50. Great, now Reason is promoting mob justice. Now that is rational.

    How about this? How about you drop your little pet issues every once in a while and look at things from an objective perspective? Oooooops! Did I say objective?

    The only reason this has flared up so much is that so many people literally lied about what happened between the cop and Brown. The evidence we have now shows that this wasn’t an issue of public execution. It was a thug attacking a cop and basically bringing his bare hands to a gun fight. Fuck him.

    1. But, but, but…. cops are to blame for me not getting my weed.
      Don’t you get the basis for libertarians’ hatred of the cops?

  51. I do not see a lot of room for doubt in re the circumstances of the Ferguson incident. What I _*DO*_ see are a lot of people making excuses for a considerable number of belligerent, uneducated, assholes going on a rampage, and stealing and destroying property. Neither of these behaviors are likely to induce sympathy among working class Americans.

    So, what do you do for a living, buddy?

  52. Why should Wilson have been dragged through all of that? Just to satisfy a certain portion of the unreasoning public? Maybe it’s time for the majority of people to rise up against the low-lifes so evident in Ferguson … instead of pandering to them, as the author suggests.

  53. I wish Reason could find a way, in their comment section, to identify, other than by how much of an indent there is, who is being “repied” to.

  54. Think about what you are asking here. You are saying the D.A. should have only put on witness who contradicted each other, themselves and all the physical evidence only to get a charge that had no chance whatsoever of leading to a conviction.

    Yes, prosecutors usually only present damming evidence to the grand jury but that’s because they have a strong case to begin with.

    Sorry, if you look through the evidence here there is no way at all he should have been put on trial and this shouldn’t have even made it to a grand jury in the first place.

    There are few things more important to a democracy that a man isn’t put on trial just to satisfy the mob.

  55. You don’t indict someone unless there is a reasonable chance they will be found guilty at trial. Prosecutors first ethical duty should be to the truth. If you conclude there is no way to prove the person guilty, you don’t go to trial. Only people for whom there is a reasonable chance of conviction should be subjected to the ordeal of a trial and the risk of conviction.

    Sorry but Sullim has self identified as a fascist and not a libertarian. No one who thinks that it is okay to indict innocent people just because can be considered anything but a fascist. This article is a new low for Reason. It is just dispicable. How the hell can the magazine walk away from the protections given criminal defense td and embrace indictment on a case they admit should never result in a conviction? Fuck Sullumn and fuck reason for employing him and printing this fascist trash

  56. From your essay above, ‘…There is plenty of room for reasonable doubt as to whether Wilson broke the law when he shot and killed Brown, and there is considerable evidence that he did?surely enough to supply probable cause, the standard for charging someone with a crime…’ What specifically, is the evidence that would lead you, or a juror, to the conclusion that there is ‘probable cause’ to charge Wilson? Further, please explain, assuming that you can, the logic that has taken you or, should have taken a juror, from a charge of ‘probable cause’ to having ‘broke the law’? What law(s) do you assert Wilson broke?

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  58. There is plenty of room for reasonable doubt as to whether Wilson broke the law when he shot and killed Brown, and there is considerable evidence that he did?surely enough to supply probable cause, the standard for charging someone with a crime.

    Why won’t you cite that evidence, instead of just alleging that it exists?

  59. i really think a lot of people are stretching what probable cause should mean. if anything, prosecutors, judges, police, etc. have used it with less respect for what a trial means to an accused and too much toward the idea that they have to arrest someone, and right quick. officer wilson shouldn’t have even had to worry about a grand jury in my view.

  60. How the Grand Jury was misled:
    http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-…..4273731666

    1. I’ve seen commenters cite the outdated Missouri law; it’s unbelievable that a professional attorney could get this wrong. The Supreme Court case isn’t cited in the video, but I believe it’s Tennessee v. Garner.

      To my mind, the outdated statute is only relevant if you believe that Wilson started shooting at Brown while he was fleeing, but it’s still a pretty ridiculous mistake to make.

  61. If they can’t eat it, get high from it or have sex with it then they have no use for it and usually break it or kill it.

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  63. So, liberatarians are no down for politically inspired trials based on race hatred. Glad to hear this. More evidence that libertarians are as evil as they claim others are. We call that political maturity.

  64. “McCulloch took extraordinary steps to deny them that trial”

    After the black and leftist communities and their politicians took extraordinary steps to force him to take a case to a grand jury which he would not have to begin with– and without notice– if this were, say, a black cop shooting a white punk. Oh, nooo, no governmental racial special treatment there.

    “thereby reinforcing the impression that the legal system is rigged against young black men and in favor of the white cops who shoot them.”

    …yeah, ’cause all the previous times when there was also plenty of evidence that the young black men were genuinely threatening people’s lives were given equal column inches or seconds of broadcast by the media right along with this one, and THAT sure improved the impression of the black community of law enforcement. If all the right shootings are ignored and the wrong and questionable shootings are hyped, what kind of impression is ANYONE going to get?

    So, Sullum, what are you smoking to write a piece like this?

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