Wednesday, January 7, 2015
A bar complaint has been filed against St.Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch and two assistant prosecuting attorneys, Kathi Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley. The complaint was filed by James R. Dowd (an attorney and former judge), Robert Ramsey (an attorney), Christi Griffin (a former attorney who is the founder and president of the Ethics Project), and seven citizens of the State of Missouri. They allege that the three prosecutors committed multiple violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct during the grand jury investigation of the Michael Brown shooting.
You can read the 11-page complaint here.
Some of the allegations are:
– Presenting witnesses to the grand jury – including Darren Wilson – who McCulloch, Alizadeh and Whirley knew or should have known would make false statements.
– Presenting the grand jury with a legal instruction ruled unconstitutional for decades.
– Mislabeling and misplacing evidence related to key witness Dorian Johnson.
– Failing to provide specific charges to the jury after “dumping” thousands of pages of interviews and evidence on them.
Christi Griffin has said initial reports from the Ferguson police chief that Darren Wilson did not know Michael Brown was suspected in an earlier convenience store robbery were changed in testimony before the grand jury, and she believes that represents perjury.
“He is the one that is allowing that perjured testimony to be presented to the grand jury, and that is a direct violation of the Code of Professional Ethics,” she said.
McCulloch also admitted that he knew Witness 40 had lied to the grand jury, but she testified anyway and the prosecutors did not inform the members of the grand jury that they knew she lied. She was an important witness because she was the only witness who backed Darren Wilson’s version of the shooting, specifically the ‘bull rush’ description of Brown charging at Wilson. Turns out she was not there and did not witness the shooting.
The bar complaint follows on the heels of a complaint filed in the St.Louis County Circuit Court by the ACLU on behalf of a member of the grand jury, which did not indict Wilson, seeking relief from the lifetime statutory prohibition that bars grand jury members from talking about their service. The grand juror wants to disclose how messed up the process was regarding the Michael Brown shooting compared to other cases that were presented to the grand jury. The ACLU is framing this argument as the grand juror’s right to free speech and the public’s right to know what its elected officials are doing. Go here to read an article in Think Progress about the lawsuit.
I would also argue, if I were them, that McCulloch opened the door by publicizing the proceedings and commenting falsely about them.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund added to McCulloch’s difficulties by writing an open letter to the chief judge of the St.Louis County Circuit Court accusing McCulloch and his 2 assistants of improper conduct and asking her to appoint a special prosecutor and convene a new grand jury to investigate the Michael Brown shooting.
I suspect McCulloch is wishing that he’d kept his mouth shut. Time to lawyer up.
(Special thanks to Nef05 for keeping us posted on these encouraging developments)