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Get Damn Mad: Assistant DAs Make Big Mistake in Ferguson Grand Jury Hearing

So, I just had this shocking video from MSNBC brought to my attention.


Since not everybody feels like clicking on a video, I'm going to sum it up as best as I can in text here. If you spent any time reading the testimony from the day that Darren Wilson testified, you might remember the opening remarks where the grand jury was given a certain statute regarding the use of force for police officers. That happens on line 8 of page 5 of the transcript for September 16th.

Some housekeeping notes to start. I'm going to pass out to you all, you all are going to receive a copy of a statute. It is section 563.046, and it is, it says law enforcement officers use of force in making an arrest. And it is the law on what is permissible, what force is permissible and when in making an arrest by a police officer.


This all seems pretty normal, though I was a little surprised when reading the transcripts over on Monday that the statute was not read into the record. Maybe that's not unusual for fact-finding hearings, but it didn't sit well with me. The video above alleges that they were given a copy of an unconstitutional law. I can't know for sure what the statute they were given said exactly, since I have yet to find it among the evidence.

But, one thing that you can know for sure is that she gave the jurors something that wasn't right. From line 11 of page 134 of the transcript for November 21st:

MS. ALIZADEH: Previously in the very beginning of this process I printed out a statute for you that was, the statute in Missouri for the use of force to affect an arrest. So if you all want to get those out. What we have discovered, and we have been going along with this, doing our research, is that the statute in the State of Missouri does not comply with the case law.


Ok. It only took you 66 days to tell the jurors that. Her instructions regarding said documents aren't awesome, though. From line 7 of page 135:

So the statute I gave you, if you want to fold that 1n half just so that you know don't necessarily rely on that because there is a portion of that that doesn't comply with the law.


Am I wrong to think that she should have maybe stated the difference? If I'm wrong, a whole lot of folks are wrong too. But, this ADA doesn't seem to have clarity in her list of priorities. Let's take a look at how she handles juror questions, shall we?

Beginning on line 24 of the same page:

GRAND JUROR: So we're to disregard this.

MS. ALIZADEH: It is not entirely incorrect or inaccurate, but there is something 1n it that's not correct, 1gnore it totally.

GRAND JUROR: It is because of the federal?

MS. WHIRLEY: Of a Supreme Court case and we must follow Supreme Court of the United States. It is Tennessee v. Garner, not that that matters much to you.


She doesn't tell them what's not correct in the original statute, and she doesn't collect them, or instruct the jurors to get rid of the misleading information. No, this is not a person who is doing their job well.

Also, am I an idiot to think that if any juror wanted to consult the specific case law, it should have been provided to them? Am I some kind of douche for thinking it might be a good idea to have such things on hand, especially considering, here we are, almost 70 days of proceedings later, and they've been going on inaccurate information all this time?

GRAND JUROR: The Supreme Court, federal Supreme Court overrides Missouri statutes.

MS. ALIZADEH: As far as you need to know, just don't worry about that.

I don't know, that seems like the kind of thing that maybe those jurors should have been concerned with. It does Justice no favors to dismiss a legitimate concern out of hand. Mind you, this correction happened at the end of the day. There aren't 10 full pages left in that day's transcript before the jurors headed out to deliberate. She could have passed along that information much sooner, but she chose to wait until all the testimony had been given. Either these DA's were deliberately attempting to confuse the jurors, or they are incompetent as all get out (and in that case, they need to get out.).


Either way, the judicial system in Ferguson has proved themselves to be as untrustworthy as the officers of their police department and it's long since time this was removed from their authority.

All transcripts and case evidence (except those damn statutes!) are available from CNN.


Apologies if this was handled elsewhere in the kinja-verse. But I don't think this is the kind of thing it's possible to talk about too much, either.


Update: This story is also covered on the St. Louis Public Radio website.

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