St. Louis County Grand Juror Challenges Lifetime Gag Order
Seeks to Participate in Public Discussion of Ferguson Events
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI - Grand Juror Doe, who served on the grand jury which investigated the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, is suing Robert McCulloch, prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County. Doe would like to talk about the experience of serving on a grand jury, the evidence presented and the investigation in a way that could contribute to the public dialogue concerning race relations.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri is representing Grand Juror Doe because, without permission from a court, it is a crime for grand jurors to discuss their service. McCulloch is named as a defendant since he would be the person to bring charges against Doe.
“The Supreme Court has said that grand jury secrecy must be weighed against the juror’s First Amendment rights on a case-by-case basis,” explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri. “The rules of secrecy must yield because this is a highly unusual circumstance. The First Amendment prevents the state from imposing a life-time gag order in cases where the prosecuting attorney has purported to be transparent.”
“Grand Juror Doe’s perspective can and should help inform a way forward here in Missouri,” says Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. “The ACLU will fight to allow this important voice to be heard by the public and lawmakers so that we can begin the healing process that can only result from fact-based reforms.”
Cooperating attorneys on this case are Eric Sowers, Ferne Wolf and Joshua Pierson, from Sowers & Wolf Attorneys at Law. A copy of the complaint can be found on the ACLU of Missouri website.
The ACLU of Missouri is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that defends and expands the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Missourians guaranteed under the United States and Missouri Constitutions, through its litigation, legislative and public education programs. It is an affiliate of the national ACLU.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.