Earlier today, the ACLU of Missouri filed lawsuitsuit against Robert McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County, where Michael Brown was killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in August.
The suit was brought on behalf of a grand juror in a case regarding whether or not to indict Wilson. The juror is challenging the lifetime gag order that forbids jurors in this case from speaking out about the experience, the evidence presented, and the investigation - all of which is information that could contribute to the ongoing public dialogue about policing and race in America.
Without permission from a court, this individual – referred to as Grand Juror Doe – would be committing a crime by discussing his or her experiences with the case. Yet the juror has stated that McCulloch mischaracterized the evidence presented to the grand jury. Since McCulloch would be the one to bring charges against Doe, he is the defendant in the suit.
Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, explains why this is so important: “The Supreme Court has said that grand jury secrecy must be weighed against the juror’s First Amendment rights on a case-by-case basis. The rules of secrecy must yield because this is a highly unusual circumstance. The First Amendment prevents the state from imposing a life-time gag order in cases where the prosecuting attorney has purported to be transparent.”
A copy of the complaint can be found on the ACLU of Missouri website. Stay tuned for further updates as this case progresses.