A BRIDGE TOO FAR

Posted in Rants on December 22nd, 2014 by Ed

The greatest criminals who ever lived are not famous. The fact that they did the job so well means they never got caught or even noticed. The reality of crime and society's efforts to stop it is that if people are smart when breaking the law, it's comparatively difficult to catch, prosecute, and punish them. Fortunately for law enforcement and the general public, most people make dumb decisions when breaking laws. They act impulsively or fail to make sufficient plans, and most importantly people who commit crimes repeatedly eventually get greedy. As the dice get rolled repeatedly, the probability of being caught eventually approaches 100%. And people who find that they were able to skirt the law in a relatively minor way eventually get grander ambitions.

I wasn't planning on doing any more Ferguson posts – It's certainly getting enough attention and we're not short on information of what a total sham the legal proceedings were. These new revelations about the prosecutor, though, sucked me back in. His strategy was clear if unconvincing, namely to create the impression of a legitimate legal proceeding taking place while hiding behind the "Well, we just handed everything to the grand jury and let them decide!" mantra. Had he limited himself to that he might have, as they used to say on Scooby Doo, gotten away with it.

Here's the thing, though: he's a stupid person. And stupid people get greedy.

In recent interviews he has admitted that he knew that many witnesses, including one who most completely corroborated Wilson's version of events, were lying.

One witness McCulloch believed was lying matches several news outlets' description of Witness 40, who told the grand jury that Brown charged at Wilson before the officer fired the final shots that killed him.

"[T]his lady clearly wasn't present when this occurred," McCulloch said. "She recounted a statement that was right out of the newspaper about Wilson's actions, and right down the line with Wilson's actions. Even though I'm sure she was nowhere near the place."

Earlier this week, the Smoking Gun's William Bastone, Andrew Goldberg, and Joseph Jesselli reported that Witness 40 had a history of racism and likely wasn't at the scene of the shooting.

As usual, the prosecutor justified this with, "Well we just decided to let the grand jury judge the credibility of the witnesses." And he finally may have gone too far gloating about the whitewash. I am not a lawyer nor am I well versed in Missouri criminal codes. As an attorney, though, the prosecutor has at the least an ethical obligation, and likely a legal obligation, to avoid introducing evidence (physical or from testimony) that he knows to be false. Under even the friendliest interpretation of his obligations, he appears to have admitted clearly to all and sundry that he flouted them.

When it seemed impossible for anyone to be held accountable for this trainwreck, the stupidity of one of the architects of this grand jury/circus has created the possibility that Federal prosecutors (or less likely, the Missouri Attorney General) have something to go on. Nothing will result in Wilson being prosecuted and obviously nothing will bring the decedent back to life. However, it could be useful to salvage some shred of dignity for the legal system by prosecuting those who intentionally introduced false testimony.