The events of yesterday: No indictment for Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown.
How to write about that?
We could begin from this end of the funnel (pictured above), the narrow end, the one that released the no-indictment conclusion yesterday. What happened in the grand jury proceedings? How do such proceedings usually work and how did this one work?
It looks like this one was pretty different. Grand juries almost always decide to indict. The exception is in the case where the accused is a police officer. Police officers tend to get the benefit of the doubt.
Did Darren Wilson get that benefit? And if he did, why?
What does all this mean? Here's the problem with writing about legal topics, about events which take place far away. The writer (me) should ideally understand everything about the laws of the state where Ferguson is located, about the past history of grand juries there, about the local politics, both racial and economic, about how prosecutors work and how they see their roles. Most importantly, the writer should have all the evidence the grand jury was given, to truly figure out what was happening.There are at least three possible explanations as to why grand juries are so much less likely to indict police officers. The first is juror bias: Perhaps jurors tend to trust police officer and believe their decisions to use violence are justified, even when the evidence says otherwise. The second is prosecutorial bias: Perhaps prosecutors, who depend on police as they work on criminal cases, tend to present a less compelling case against officers, whether consciously or unconsciously.The third possible explanation is more benign. Ordinarily, prosecutors only bring a case if they think they can get an indictment. But in high-profile cases such as police shootings, they may feel public pressure to bring charges even if they think they have a weak case.“The prosecutor in this case didn’t really have a choice about whether he would bring this to a grand jury,” Ben Trachtenberg, a University of Missouri law professor, said of the Brown case. “It’s almost impossible to imagine a prosecutor saying the evidence is so scanty that I’m not even going to bring this before a grand jury.”
I cannot do any of that properly, and that's why this post is about the dance my own thoughts perform with the serious and important events taking place. Because of my lack of competence in the required fields I have not said much about Ferguson. But not saying anything about Ferguson seems off to me. Hence these musings.
Climb up a bit into the funnel from the narrow end, while still focusing on the grand jury proceedings. What about that prosecutor, eh? Did Mr. McCulloch sound to you like a prosecutor does? Like someone presenting a case for the grand jury while essentially acting for Michael Brown? To get justice for his memory and for his family and friends?