After the grand jury in Ferguson, Mo. decided not to charge police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, many wondered about the legal precedent for such a decision. FiveThirtyEight reported this morning on just how rare it is for a grand jury not to indict someone given the evidence available: in 2010 (the most recent data available), 162,000 cases were pursued by U.S. attorneys, and just 11 failed to return indictments.
While the case against Wilson was in state court and not federal, the idea of a prosecutor failing to win an indictment in a case with this much evidence to support both sides of the argument is hard to fathom. While officer-involved shootings are often the exception to the rule of automatically receiving an indictment, clearly this is an exceptional case.
The National Bar Association believes that, indeed, there has been a gross miscarriage of justice here. Last night, they issued the following statement condemning the grand jury decision and calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to file federal charges against Wilson:
WASHINGTON, DC – The National Bar Association is questioning how the Grand Jury, considering the evidence before them, could reach the conclusion that Darren Wilson should not be indicted and tried for the shooting death of Michael Brown. National Bar Association President Pamela J. Meanes expresses her sincere disappointment with the outcome of the Grand Jury’s decision but has made it abundantly clear that the National Bar Association stands firm and will be calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue federal charges against officer Darren Wilson. “We will not rest until Michael Brown and his family has justice” states Pamela Meanes, President of the National Bar Association.
President Meanes is requesting that the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri not allow this decision to cause an unnecessary uproar in the community that could lead to arrests, injuries or even deaths of innocent people. “I am asking for everyone to remain as calm as possible and to join in solidarity as we continue to support the family of Michael Brown and put our legal plan into full effect” says President Meanes “I feel the magnitude of the grand jury’s ruling as Ferguson, Missouri is only minutes from where I reside”, adds President Meanes.
Over the last couple of months, the National Bar Association has hosted Town Hall meetings informing attendees of their Fourth Amendment (Search Seizure) constitutional rights, whether it is legal to record police activity, and how citizens should behave/respond if and when they interface with police officers. “The death of Michael Brown was the last straw and the catalyst for addressing issues of inequality and racial bias in policing, the justice system, and violence against members of minority communities,” states Pamela Meanes.
The family of Michael Brown requested that District Attorney McCullough step aside and allow a special prosecutor be assigned to the investigation to give the community confidence that the grand jury would conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the tragic shooting death of 18 year old Michael Brown. The grand jury’s decision confirms the fear that many expressed months ago — that a fair and impartial investigation would not happen.
“The National Bar Association is adamant about our desire for transformative justice. While we are disappointed with the grand jury’s ruling, we are promoting peace on every street corner around the world. The only way to foster systemic change is to organize, educate, and mobilize. We are imploring everyone to fight against the injustice in Ferguson, Missouri and throughout the United States by banding together and working within the confines of the law,” states President Meanes.
[via National Bar Association]