We’ve been hearing how rare it is for a prosecutor to fail to secure an indictment from a grand jury.
This is due to the one-sided nature of the proceedings: The prosecutor alone determines what evidence jurors hear and how it’s delivered. The accused gets no attorney, has no right to answer the charges or mount a defense.
Nor is there a judge; consequently, evidence that would easily sustain objection or suppression in a trial is admissible in a GJ. A prosecutor can revoke a subpoenaed witness’s Fifth Amendment privilege, forcing them to testify against their will or face civil contempt. (You can’t do that in a trial either.)
Nothing prevents a prosecutor from engaging in behavior that would be ruled abusive or unfair in court—badgering the witness, etc. The secret nature of the proceedings (no press, transcripts are sealed by default) only encourages this latitude.
Finally, as Lauren Regan points out, “The prosecutor becomes the grand jurors’ friend: he controls their bathroom breaks, meals, and whether they can return to their work, families, and lives”—and of course, thanks them for their service in the end.
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Prosecutors are able to capitalize on this advantage about 100% of the time. In 2010, U.S. prosecutors held 162,000 grand juries at the federal level; of these, a paltry eleven failed to secure an indictment.
Now consider this: Of the grand juries Robert McCulloch alone has prosecuted, a full six (including Wilson) have failed to grant indictments. Six, of course, is more than half of eleven—all by a single guy. Fucking amazing, right?
Even more amazing, those six happen to be cases where the accused were, like Darren Wilson, cops who killed someone in the line of duty.
The only way it’s not amazing is if McCulloch is a rank shitbag who softballs murder suspects when they happen to share his law enforcement background. But the chances of these numbers occurring without his complicity are astronomically remote.
So yeah. It isn’t amazing at all. Prosecutors are ‘naturally’ inclined to identify with the police and think well of them. They are “on the same team” and closely collaborate. A prosecutor rarely gets a case which does not someway depend on the word of an officer.
This tends to temper a prosecutor’s zeal for going after a cop—and especially, as in McCulloch’s case, the very same cops he works with.
Moreover, we all know by now McCulloch’s dad was a St. Louis PD cop killed in the line of duty. Less well known is that his brother, cousin, uncle and nephew served in the same department; his mother worked there as a clerk for 20 years.
McCulloch himself intended to join the force before losing his leg to cancer as a teen: “I couldn’t become a policeman,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “so being [a] prosecutor is the next best thing.” Today, he is president of backstoppers.org, a charity which gives financial aid to police and their families facing hardship (and which may have been raising funds for Darren Wilson).
Shit doesn’t look good.
[More and better to come.]