Wash U Expert: Law professor calls for do-over in Ferguson case

The case should be presented to a new grand jury, Quinn says

The St. Louis County Circuit Court has the authority to seek and appoint a special prosecutor to present the case involving Michael Brown’s death to a new grand jury — and should do so, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis said.


“The case should be presented to a new grand jury that is properly instructed on the law and provided with evidence without any appearance of bias or leaning,” said Mae Quinn, JD, director of the law school’s Juvenile Law and Justice Clinic.

“That special prosecutor could be the state’s attorney general,” Quinn said. “The governor himself can ask the Attorney General’s Office to serve in such a role, as it so often does in serious cases in counties around the state. This second look led by outside officials could help develop greater respect for the legal system and bring calm to our region and country.”

Quinn, an expert in criminal law, juvenile justice and legal ethics, believes the grand jury process conducted in conjunction with police officer Darren Wilson’s case was deeply flawed.

Her review of the transcripts thus far leads her to believe that Wilson’s case “received preferential treatment as compared to others in the system, including receiving months of attention while others, by the prosecutor’s own admission during the proceedings, had received only 15 minutes of the grand jury’s time.”

There is no double jeopardy issue that would prevent a second grand jury from reconsidering the case.

“It seems clear from the beginning of the proceedings that the prosecution quite unusually adopted a defense stance, injecting the idea of justified homicide into the process well before Wilson testified,” Quinn said. “Prosecutors also served as quasi-witnesses by essentially testifying about facts outside of the existing record and vouching for police processes. More than this, the jurors were provided with both inaccurate and confusing information about the law and how it was to be applied to the facts.”