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Ferguson Grand Juror Sues Prosecutor McCulloch, Seeks to Remove Gag Order

The grand juror believes that by speaking openly about the Michael Brown case, he or she can help advance legislation
Ferguson Grand Juror Sues Prosecutor McCulloch, Seeks to Remove Gag Order
Cristina Fletes-Boutte-Pool/Getty Images

A Ferguson grand juror is suing St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch in the hopes of removing a gag order that is preventing the jurors from speaking on the Michael Brown case, reports USA TODAY.

The unidentified juror, known in the federal lawsuit simply as “Grand Juror Doe,” believes that having the freedom to talk about the case could further conversations regarding race, said the plaintiff’s representation, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri. Additionally, the plaintiff said that the jury’s November decision to not indict Darren Wilson for the August death of Michael Brown was not portrayed accurately to the media.

“From [Doe’s] perspective, although the release of a large number of records provides an appearance of transparency, with heavy redactions and the absence of context, those records do not fully portray the proceedings before the grand jury,” the lawsuit reads.

The document also states that evidence was not presented to the jury in a timely manner, especially compared to other cases on which the grand jurors deliberated since their assembly last May. Juror Doe goes on to allege that the evidence was heavily biased.

“The investigation of Wilson had a stronger focus on the victim (Brown) than in other cases presented to the jury,” the lawsuit says.

Typically, grand jurors are bound to secrecy by law unless granted special permission. However, as stated in the lawsuit, the Supreme Court can bend that regulation at its discretion as to make sure it is not stifling First Amendment rights. The lawsuit calls this case a “highly unusual circumstance,” and says that, “any interests furthered by maintaining grand jury secrecy are outweighed by the interests secured by the First Amendment.”

McCulloch, who has received a lot of backlash for his handling of the grand jury, has not yet been served. His spokesperson, Ed Magee, said that he had no comment.

The ACLU argues that if granted permission to speak, the grand juror could aid in creating legislation in the wake of Brown’s death.

“Currently, our elected officials have only one side of the story,” said Jeffrey Mittman, ACLU of Missouri’s executive director. “In this case, we have a grand juror who respects the grand jury process and has said, ‘I have information that is important and that legislators need to know.'”