As if the prosecutor’s office presiding over the Ferguson grand jury didn’t screw up enough by behaving as Darren Wilson’s defense counsel and offering unconstitutional law for the grand jurors to chew on, new evidence shows that there may, as well, have been a financial incentive for DA Bob McCulloch to paint Darren Wilson as a blameless victim following his killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. According to Crooks & Liars:
Bob McCulloch is president of an organization that raised money for Darren Wilson in the same time frame that he was presenting evidence to the Grand Jury.
And this, from Addicting Info:
In addition to his duties as the county prosecutor, Robert McCulloch is also the president of The Backstoppers, Inc., an organization used to fundraise for the men and women in uniform in both Missouri and Illinois. And, in August, his organization was affiliated with a t-shirt drive featuring a picture of Missouri and the statement ‘I SUPPORT OFFICER D. WILSON’ which was set up to raise money for the Darren Wilson Defense Fund as well as The Backstoppers.
It appears that, when it comes to Ferguson, the looting – at least of the judicial system – began well before the looters began looting. In August 2014, the National Bar Association, along with 70,000 Ferguson residents who signed a petition, began the push for DA McCulloch to recuse himself from prosecuting this case, based on the fact that “[t]he prosecutor’s father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin have all worked for the department, and his father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect . . . .” McCullough refused. Following the grand jury proceedings, in which there was no indictment of Darren Wilson, McCulloch’s office’s bizarre grand jury behavior earned him the condemnation of many, including two legal experts, St. Louis University law professor Susan McGraugh and Jerryl T. Christmas, a defense attorney and former prosecutor in St. Louis. As McGraugh noted, criminal suspects are never allowed four full hours to present his or her narrative to a grand jury:
This was not a typical grand jury proceeding in which only a few witnesses testify, the prosecutor tightly controls what grand jurors hear, and the suspect does not testify at length about why he should not be charged.
McCulloch’s announcement of the failure of the grand jury to indict Wilson – in which he rambled and defended himself and detailed the mountains of evidence presented, and then condemned social media and the news media while simultaneously circling the cop wagons – was equally bizarre, and he was again held up as an example of the “what not to do” school of thought. As Norm Scheiber, a Rhodes scholar with a masters in economics from Oxford, wrote,
The problem with this is that we already have a forum for establishing the underlying facts of a case—and, no less important, for convincing the public that justice is being served in a particular case. It’s called a trial. It, rather than the post-grand jury press conference, is where lawyers typically introduce mounds of evidence to the public, litigate arguments extensively, and generally establish whether or not someone is guilty of a crime. By contrast, as others have pointed out, the point of a grand jury isn’t to determine beyond a shadow of a doubt what actually happened. It’s to determine whether there’s probable cause for an indictment, which requires a significantly lower standard of proof. That McCulloch appeared to turn the grand jury into an exercise in sorting out the former rather than the latter suggested he wanted no part of a trial. (Emphasis added).
McCulloch presided over a grand jury hearing in which information beneficial to the defendant was leaked to the public, in which his prosecutors served up unconstitutional law to the grand jurors and allowed them to digest that bad law for several weeks, in which he had a personal bias against black individuals shooting cops, as his father was killed in the line of duty while responding to a call involving a black suspect. McCulloch threw a mountain of evidence at a group of people and offered little to no guidance as to how to sort it out; he allowed the suspect to present a virtually unchallenged, self-serving narrative for over four hours, staged a press conference to announce the lack of an indictment with an eye to defending himself, his office, and Darren Wilson; and, as we now know, his organization financially benefited from the sale of “We Support Darren Wilson” t-shirts. Recent history shows that, “According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.” Prosecutors are supposed to be able to “indict a ham sandwich.” In this case, McCulloch and his office not only failed to indict the “ham sandwich,” McCulloch publicly declared how tasty the ham sandwich was, particularly when stuck between two pieces of white bread.
Said University of Illinois law professor Andrew D. Leipold,
If the prosecutor wants an indictment and doesn’t get one, something has gone horribly wrong. It just doesn’t happen.
Something went horribly wrong. The system of justice in this country, clearly, is not served by having prosecutors who are tight with the cops – which is most of them, but in the case of McCulloch, there’s a heightened bond – prosecute police misconduct. In order for justice for Michael Brown to be served, a case for prosecutorial misconduct on the part of DA McCulloch’s office has to be placed squarely on the table.