Dan Abrams Takes on Legal Analysts’ ‘Misleading’ Ferguson Grand Jury Coverage


Mediaite founder Dan Abrams wrote an analysis for ABC News today on the Ferguson grand jury process. The national microscope has been focused on the case for months but particularly for the past 24 hours since Officer Darren Wilson was not charged for fatally shooting Michael Brown.

Abrams writes of a “faulty analysis of the grand jury process that has done a great disservice in a case that has become so personal to so many.” And while this particular grand jury process was different, Abrams argues that isn’t necessarily a bad thing:

Here, the grand jury was given access to far more wide-ranging evidence. When that evidence and the supporting documents and photographs were released late Monday night, we learned that the grand jurors saw everything from the testimony of Officer Darren Wilson himself, to autopsy reports, photographs, blood and gunshot residue evidence and often conflicting eyewitness accounts. While the rules of evidence didn’t apply the way they would in a trial, there was no defense attorney present and no cross examination of witnesses, the process was far more akin to a typical trial than what ordinarily occurs in the grand jury process.

Just as important, the prosecutor didn’t ask for a specific charge as almost all prosecutors do in front of a grand jury. Some legal analysts have suggested there is something inherently insidious, untoward or even corrupt about presenting the grand jury with so much evidence and not asking for a specific charge. Yes, it’s different, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch has faced scrutiny in the past day for his connection to the police and personal feelings on the case, but Abrams defends his decision to hand the case over to a grand jury instead of making the decision by himself.

And while McCulloch came off sounding “like an advocate for Officer Wilson rather than for the process,” Abrams concludes, “Legal analysts trying to explain the process to the world should know better than to make inflammatory statements about how the system typically works without the appropriate context.”

You can read Abrams’ full analysis here.

[Image via ABC/screengrab]

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac