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Ferguson Grand Juror Sues Over 'Lifetime Gag Order'

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on January 05, 2015 3:54 PM

A member of the grand jury that declined to press charges against former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown has filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch.

The anonymous juror, known only as "Grand Juror Doe," is seeking the right to speak publicly about what went on during the grand jury's investigation, reports The Huffington Post.

According to the lawsuit, the evidence presented to the grand jury was done in a way that was "muddled and untimely" and "differed markedly and in significant ways" from how evidence was presented to the grand jury in previous cases.

The grand juror wishes to speak out in order to correct what the lawsuit claims is "not entirely accurate" portrayals of grand jurors' views, as well as to "contribute to the current public dialogue concerning race relations."

Mo.'s Grand Jury Secrecy Law Is 'Lifetime Gag Order': ACLU

Grand jury proceedings are generally kept in strict confidence. Missouri's grand jury secrecy law makes it a crime for grand jurors to discuss their service.

But the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Grand Juror Doe in the lawsuit, characterized this law as a "lifetime gag order" that violates the grand juror's First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Missouri's law prohibits grand jurors from disclosing any evidence given before the grand jury. It also bars jurors from disclosing how any of the members of the grand jury voted, or from violating the "Oath of Grand Jurors."

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment from the court that the Missouri law is unconstitutional as applied. It also asks for an injunction against McCulloch from enforcing the grand jury secrecy statute against the anonymous grand juror.

A spokesman for McCulloch told USA Today that McCulloch had not yet been served with the lawsuit. Once he is properly served, McCulloch will have 21 days to file a response.

Ferguson Grand Juror Sues Over 'Lifetime Gag Order' by FindLaw

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