When the government investigates the government it invariably finds for the government.
Robert P. McCulloch, the St. Louis County Prosecutor who brought Darren Wilson before a grand jury over the shooting of Michael Brown should never have been anywhere near that case. When McCulloch was twelve his father, a police officer on duty, was shot and killed by a black suspect. What happened to McCulloch’s father was a tragedy and a crime. The twelve year old Robert McCulloch was a victim of that crime, too, and he deserves our empathy. What he does not deserve is to be tasked with prosecuting officer involved shootings. McCulloch has been in office for since 1991. During that 24 years, he has never prosecuted any police officer over any officer-involved shooting.
McCulloch should have recused himself. He did not. The voters of Saint Louis county had the chance to do that for him in November. McCulloch was reelected with 95.25% of the vote. He had no opponent; the Republican party didn’t even attempt to contest the race. 297,729 total ballots were cast in that election. McCulloch received 221,706 votes.
Missouri governor Jay Nixon suggested that McCulloch recuse himself; McCulloch refused. Nixon had the authority to require recusal; he did not. McCulloch was supported in his position by many in the Missouri political establishment, including Senator Claire McCaskill.
McCulloch’s team made a point of presenting both incriminating and exculpatory evidence to the Grand Jury. While that may sound like McCulloch was bending over backwards to be fair, they were not. This is an astonishing reversal of normal practice. If a prosecutor goes to a Grand Jury, it is to get an indictment. There is no judge overseeing a Grand Jury; there is just a prosecutor. There is no right for a defendant to present an opposing case. It is exceedingly rare for a Grand Jury not to indict. In the Federal Court system, the indictment rate is over ninety-nine percent. (The American Grand Jury system is badly in need of reform, but that’s another topic entirely.)
I can easily understand why tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets tonight in protest.
The problem in Ferguson is a total breakdown of trust. Based on what I’ve seen and read, both from traditional and non-traditional sources, neither the police, the prosecutors, the local politicians, or the news media are in any way trustworthy. (I’m citing media source below for this article. But be warned—any or all of them could be lying or just incompetent.)
And as a result you’ve got a large mass of people there who see the police as simply the largest and best armed gang in the city.
We are seeing a rule of law breakdown, starting at the top. Our nation’s entire political class from President down to Prosecutors seem to think they are above the law. This country seems to reward lawbreakers among the elites with wealth and power. If I were a young black person in Ferguson, I’d be wondering why should I bother following the law. It is to their immense credit that the vast majority of the protesters and citizens there are peaceful, and seem to be willing to work within the political process.
But the protesters might do well to need to take inspiration from the Huey P. Newton Gun Club here in Dallas, and organize some black open carry marches and rallies. Demonstrate to the media and the politicians that they are not going to be unarmed serfs.
Grand Juries Almost Never Fail to Indict, But They Did in Ferguson
by Anthony L. Fisher (Reason.com)
Who Killed Robert McCulloch’s Father?
by Peter James Hudson (Los Angeles Review of Books)
St. Louis Prosecutor Has Faced Controversy for Decades
by Nicholas J.C. Pistor and Joe Holleman (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
St. Louis County Prosecutor Defends Objectivity
by Frances Robles (New York Times)
In Atypical Approach, Grand Jury in Ferguson Shooting Receives Full Measure of Case
by Kimberly Kindy and Carol D. Leonnig (The Washington Post)
Summary Report – General Election – Official Final Results – St. Louis County, Missouri
Saint Louis County Board of Elections