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CNN: DOJ Angry at Release of Truthful #Ferguson Info

CNN: DOJ Angry at Release of Truthful #Ferguson Info

Legal goals and political interests divide local and Federal authorities

CNN reports that the Department of Justice continues to express frustration with the refusal of local Ferguson officials to hide from the Grand Jury and the public generally truthful information about the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown.  These same frustrations have been repeatedly echoed by the most hardcore of the Ferguson protestors, at increasing volume as they see the prospects for an indictment of officer Wilson rapidly fading.

County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has asked federal officials to coordinate on the timing of the announcement of the local Grand Jury outcome, in the interests of minimizing the potential for more rioting, looting, and arson.  It is widely expected that the local Grand Jury will decline to indict Wilson, because of a profound lack of evidence of criminal conduct.

CNN’s report shows that DOJ officials have declined to do so, arguing that it would “undermine their argument that the federal investigation is independent.”  Of course, an official closure of the DOJ investigation would also not allow the Department to follow the strategy they have in the Zimmerman case of dragging  out their investigation for years.  This strategy pursued in the Zimmerman case allows for such politically expedient announcements, days before a major election, as the sudden convening of a Zimmerman Grand Jury based upon evidence of highly questionable credibility.

The CNN article notes that the state and federal investigations are based upon separate and distinct statutes, and thus are not entirely identical.  Left unsaid is the equally obvious point that the state and federal investigations serve different political masters.

The federal authorities and Ferguson protestors have strongly criticized state officials for providing the local Grand Jury with all of the evidence available regarding the Ferguson shooting, arguing that the Grand Jury should instead be denied access to evidence providing legal justification for Brown’s killing.  In addition, the federal investigation is being run by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, which actively organized and supported ongoing and tumultuous street protests in the case of the George Zimmerman shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin. (Zimmerman was ultimately acquitted of all criminal charges.)

All of this is consistent with the view that the local authorities are more interested in seeking, and broadly sharing, the truth of the Ferguson events than are federal authorities whose actions, current and past, seem intended to exacerbate racial tension and limit the sharing of truthful information.

In addition, although state and Federal authorities are considering different legal statutes, both ultimately will rely on the same body of evidence–and to date DOJ investigators have participated in every witness interview and have been provided access to every piece of evidence available.  It would seem that grounds for Federal civil rights charges exist, or not, and thus no reason to delay the findings of the federal investigation.

Some of the Justice Department complaints around the Ferguson investigation seem little more than petulant.  They have vociferously complained about the leaks by local officials of truthful information about the case, including the official autopsy report that gutted protestor’s claims that Wilson had shot a fleeing Mike Brown in the back and that Brown had been shot while his hands were raised in surrender.

Indeed, the autopsy report instead found a contact gun shot wound to Brown’s right hand, confirming that Brown had his hand on Wilson’s gun when at least one of the rounds were fired.  This is consistent with Wilson’s claim throughout that Brown attempted to seize the officer’s pistol.

In a similar vein, DOJ investigators wish to deny public access to the evidence presented to the local Grand Jury, contrary to the desires of local authorities to make all this evidence publicly available.  Instead, the DOJ wishes to deny access to this evidence until they have completed their own investigation–which, as seen in the Zimmerman case, can take years (or, at least, until January 2017).

Things that make you go, “hmmmmm…”

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.

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Comments

I have a vague memory of something years ago about an LA police chief who was criticized as a racist because he wanted advanced notice of (I think the Rodney King trial) so he could have cops on duty and in place in case of a riot.

Maybe, Andrew, it would be good to carefully delineate the use of the term “leaks”, as I’ve read stuff that indicates the information coming out about Wilson and his interaction with the grand jury did NOT leak by any volition of the people directly involved, such as the DA. He denied in the clearest terms that anyone in his office or the jury “leaked”.

He’s seemed to me to be as straight up as you could hope anybody would be, quite to the contrary of the Feds.

My personal thinking is that if I were a state official, we’d just follow our normal processes and the Feds be damned. I would not owe them anything but professional courtesy.

Eric Holder said in remarks at the Washington Ideas Forum: “I think it’s pretty clear that the need for wholesale change in that department is appropriate.”

So long as he was referring to the Department of (Racial) Justice, I’d just intone…

“Amain, amain to that…”

    Char Char Binks in reply to Ragspierre. | November 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I wonder if they’ll discover that the best candidates for positions of authority happen to be black. It’s funny how things seem to work out that way.

The federal authorities and Ferguson protestors have strongly criticized state officials for providing the local Grand Jury with all of the evidence available regarding the Ferguson shooting, arguing that the Grand Jury should instead be denied access to evidence providing legal justification for Brown’s killing.

Most folks are never on a Grand Jury, so they have no idea what a Grand Juror can do. In a word .. “everything”. They get to ask questions, something that trial juries, in most cases, can only wish for. Not only do they get to ask questions of the witnesses, but they can ask questions of the prosecuting attorney.

It is the responsibility of the Grand Jury to look at all the facts that they can. I am pressed to understand just how the above statement can be true unless the federal prosecuting attorney is just plain out lying to the Grand Jury.

    SDN in reply to Neo. | November 1, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    How do you think they plan to get an indictment of Zimmerman?

    Ragspierre in reply to Neo. | November 1, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Let’s go to first principles.

    A grand jury has A job…determine if there is sufficient evidence of a crime under statute to bind a potential defendant over for a trial.

    They are NOT there to try any matter. This is why they very often are not treated to the totality of evidence…even IF it were available while they are meeting. Which it seldom if ever IS.

    If you doubt this, check it out. It is “grand jury 101”.

      The powers of a grand jury are much more, in most cases, than people think. Though grand juries usually rely upon the prosecutor to provide them with evidentiary materials and witnesses, they are capable, in most jurisdictions, of issuing their own subpoenas or having them issued by a court. And, while prosecutors have a tendency to attempt to control a grand jury, if there is a lack of cooperation on the part of the prosecutor with a jury’s request for information, then the resulting fallout can be detrimental to the prosecutor’s continued career. The longer a grand jury is seated the less likely they are to be subject to prosecutorial manipulation.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Neo. | November 2, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Sorry for the …hmmm… explicit analogy. It’s the only one I can think of.

    My understanding is that presenting a case to a grand jury is a bit like having sex with a woman. Some just lie passively and others are very active participants.

Another point about these “leaks”. While it is generally true that Grand Jury Proceedings are “secret”, the secrecy only applies to the Government and the Grand Jurors themselves.

Witnesses (at least in the Federal system) are generally allowed to disclose whatever they were asked or testified to before the Grand Jury.

Some of these “leaks” may therefore be perfectly legal and allowable.

JackRussellTerrierist | November 2, 2014 at 12:48 am

The federal authorities and Ferguson protestors have strongly criticized state officials for providing the local Grand Jury with all of the evidence available regarding the Ferguson shooting, arguing that the Grand Jury should instead be denied access to evidence providing legal justification for Brown’s killing. In addition, the federal investigation is being run by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, which actively organized and supported ongoing and tumultuous street protests in the case of the George Zimmerman shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin. (Zimmerman was ultimately acquitted of all criminal charges.)

This pretty much sets forth the condition of the current Department of Justice. It is an atrocity.

This lawfare case (unrelated to Ferguson) may be of interest to you:

http://www.law360.com/articles/587363/court-recused-over-corrupt-sierra-wildfire-prosecution

Feds Urged Ferguson Police NOT to release Brown Strong Arm Robbery Video:
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/feds-urged-police-not-release-michael-brown-robbery-video-n182346

So, the “truth” becomes, as the Brown family alleges, “character assassination and a smear campaign.”

Justice in Ferguson is apparently what the mob desires. The U.S. Department of Justice apparently has taken sides with the mob.

Truth is anathema to the current Federal government (and, arguably, has been to the FedGov for many, many years). If the truth were widely known, the shooting civil war would have started long ago.

“The federal authorities and Ferguson protestors have strongly criticized state officials for providing the local Grand Jury with all of the evidence available regarding the Ferguson shooting, arguing that the Grand Jury should instead be denied access to evidence providing legal justification for Brown’s killing.”

Why?

Seriously, all politics aside, WHY would this be acceptable? I know how the grand jury works. I know prosecutors don’t have to provide all evidence.

But why would any moral person wish to prosecute another when there is evidence justifying there alleged crime?

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to rokiloki. | November 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Why would the feds and the aggrieved of Ferguson want evidence suppressed for the GJ?

    Because the evidence is not supportive of their collective desire to foster a climate in which blacks have carte blanche to commit crimes freely, especially against whites. They want to put the fear of their wrath machine into the mind of every police officer in America so that he or she hesitates to even attempt to arrest blacks.

    Twanger in reply to rokiloki. | November 4, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Why?
    Simple. Votes.
    Democrats need the votes, and they will do any slimy thing including pandering, lying, cheating, and spending YOUR hard earned money to get the votes.

Char Char Binks | November 2, 2014 at 3:31 pm

I thought the Fed. DOJ was upset releasing info to the media and the public, and “leaks”, not about the GJ getting info. Or did I miss something in the news?

Even the most vile, rabid racist has a right to self-defense. If a racist kills one of the subjects of his hate in legitimate self-defense, he has not violated anyone’s civil rights, he has protected his own. There’s a difference between “I hate his kind so I’ll kill him” and “I hate his kind and he is threatening my life, so I have to kill him to protect myself.” In the latter, the killer’s hatred for his attacker’s “kind” is irrelevant to whether or not the killing of his attacker is justified. If the killing of the attacker would have been justified in a situation lacking the personal animosity (of any kind), then the killing is justified, period.

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