UK Prof: Ferguson Grand Jury’s Process Unusual
Since it was announced Monday that a grand jury did not indict a while police officer for shooting and killing an unarmed black teenager there has been much talk about violence, race and discrimination.
What about the legal aspects of the grand jury’s actions? ABC 36 talked with an impartial third party.
Courtney Lollar, University of Kentucky law professor, said the case is unusual.
Statistics show it is very rare for a grand jury not to return an indictment.
U.S. Attorney’s prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010 according to the Bureau of Justice numbers. Grand juries did not return an indictment in only 11 of them.
Lollar said there is an exception when it comes to cases involving police officer shootings; those usually have much lower indictment rates.
She said typically, grand juries are only given evidence of guilt but this grand jury was given both sides, she said that’s another sign this was an unusual case.
“I think if you were really invested in a prosecution, and that’s normally the case, normally they don’t present the evidence suggesting someone’s not guilty even if there’s a strong evidence out there because they don’t have an obligation to under the law,” said Lollar. “In this case obviously they had some concerns about whether they wanted to prosecute the case."
The prosecutor’s office released around 1,000 pages of grand jury evidence, a third thing Lollar said is not common.
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