Monday, November 24, 2014
Prosecuting Attorney Bob Culloch has publicly stated that a transcript of the proceedings before the grand jury investigating the Michael Brown shooting will be released, if the grand jury decides not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.
For three months, prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch has said he would seek a rare court order from Judge Carolyn Whittington immediately releasing nearly all evidence should Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson not be charged. Grand jury proceedings usually remain secret.
“We’ve asked the judge to do that, and the judge has agreed that she will do that, if there is no indictment,” McCulloch said during a radio interview with KTRS in September. “There’s no probably about it, it will be released.”
On Sunday, however, the court said, “Judge Whittington has entered no such order and has made no such agreement,” according to director of judicial admnistration Paul Fox.
I do not believe Judge Whittington will order the evidence released.
Grand jury proceedings are secret in order to protect witnesses from potential public criticism, condemnation and retaliation. Not even their identities can be disclosed, much less their testimony, especially in an extremely controversial case like this one where threats to kill have been uttered and public officials are preparing for a war to break out. The situation is so tense that Governor Nixon has preemptively declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard.
Under these circumstances, where public disclosure of witness identities and testimony could be a death sentence, I cannot imagine that a judge would lift the veil of secrecy. I certainly would not risk people’s lives to provide political cover for McCulloch’s decision to try Wilson in secret.
There is only one way to handle this case properly and that is to charge Wilson with murder and accord him a public trial with due process of law.