How do we know the fix was in at the Ferguson grand jury?

Grand Juries, despite the romantic view of them, are creatures of the prosecution. The prosecutor decides what evidence to show the jurors and what to withhold. The prosecutor instructs the jurors on the law and draws up the bill he wants them to find. They have such little independence that former New York State Chief Judge Sol Wachler once said that a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich if the prosector wanted.

Of course, the opposite is true.

How do we know, however, that the prosecutor in Ferguson intended the grand jury to return no true bill? The answer is that the target Officer Darren Wilson chose to testify to the grand jury.

Now consider this: In a grand jury a target has no lawyer. There is no judge to decide what questions can be put to him. A target is at the mercy of the prosecutor, if he agrees to testify. Of course, the constitution gives the defendant the right to refuse to testify. And there is no criminal defense attorney that I have ever heard of who would allow his witness to testify, except if he had great confidence in the prosecutor. And yet Officer Wilson testified and a few short weeks later he is free (from state charges, anyway).

Prosecutors can obtain indictments of ham sandwiches. They can also let the sandwich rot, if they want to save someone from the law. And that’s what happened here. It’s as plain as day.

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  1. Hey, I always learn from your posts, and the detail here about grand juries is very welcome! (I also want to bear down on Petrarch tonight — how nice that will be!)
    What troubles me most, probably, about Ferguson is the wonderful attention to it in the media — while they carefully pay NO attention to the large and growing movement of workers for a living wage and to organize themselves. Black Friday will bring Walmart actions and strikes, fast food rallies all over the country, I believe.

    Cutting into corporate control of all work would go farther to bring whites and blacks together, it seems to me, than the despairing rage of African-Americans against the violence of the mostly white police — and the police state. Poverty, economic abuse of both blacks and whites and all left-out people, is at the bottom of racial turmoil. We must all get together against the powers that rule us, but of course we’ve known that for many years and can’t seem to bring it about.

  2. Big Media love blacks and whites fighting each other. No threat whatever to the corporate state — a gift to it, in fact. Just bread and circuses.
    Or am I wrong about this?

  3. You are of course right that solving the underlying injustices is more important than putting Darren Wilson in jail. The fascinating thing about the case, to me, however, is the utter contempt the “legal” system in Missouri has for everyone who attempts to scrutinize it. The brazeness of the disregard for simple justice (with a small “j,” no political overtones) is really breathtaking. And of course that kind of corruption is simply another manifestation of the rigged system we are laboring under.

    The media is interested in the case because it is easier than covering issues of social and economic justice. Broadcasters are especially reluctant to wobble the status quo, since they themselves are economically and (they hope) socially part of the elite that runs us. Plus they are hoping for riots. It’s not just for the same reason that weather announcers hope for tornados–because it puts them in the forefront–but also because it allows them to gin up the social divisiveness that they specialize in. Any violence will bring out the goons like Rudy Giuliani who will once again say that only white cops can keep blacks from killing each other. And for saying that he will have an open invitation to any TV or radio “news” program in the country.

    As for organizing, you are right. As Charles Mingus once said, we better get some wire cutters before they get some guns to us.

    • Jeff Nguyen
    • November 24th, 2014

    Good analysis. In almost all cases, the state (prosecution) has the advantage. A lack of indictment is a tell of the state’s true intentions. The delayed reporting of the verdict was also deliberate to increase already frayed tensions between law enforcement and the community which has made them look bad. The Brown family has been incredible through the whole ordeal.

  4. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist.

  5. You make a great point. As soon as I heard that Wilson testified, I thought, “WHY? Who let him??” This almost never happens in criminal cases, so yes, you have to wonder what his side must have already known before/during the trial to make him so confident in the outcome.

    By the way- would you like to write for the League of Bloggers? You can write as little or as much as you like. We’d love to have you! Check it out and let me know:
    http://leagueofbloggers.wordpress.com/

    • Many thanks, Tanya, I’m flattered. Did you get my email response?

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