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St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch was charged with numerous ethics violations on Monday for his handling of the Ferguson shooting case. (Photo: NBC News)

Ferguson Prosecutor Hit With Ethics Complaint

'We would like to send the message that prosecuting attorneys can no longer abuse their power and expect it to be swept under the rug,' said Ethics Project founder Christi Griffin.

Nadia Prupis

A misconduct complaint against St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch was filed Monday in response to his highly-criticized oversight of the Ferguson grand jury proceedings.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Kathi Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley have also been named in the complaint, which was filed by the founder of the Ethics Project, Christi Griffin, and six other attorneys  and citizens.  The complaint, filed with the Missouri Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, charges that McCulloch violated at least 15 professional codes of conduct in his handling of the case which saw Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, 2014.

The transcripts and other documents helped bring the complaint forward, "because as long as the police can expect not to be prosecuted for their misconduct, they will continue to over-police, they will continue to abuse citizens, they will continue to use excessive force," Griffin told St. Louis Public Radio on Monday.

Griffin's complaint charges McCulloch with "gross failure to vigorously represent their client—the citizens of St. Louis, Missouri, in their capacity as prosecutors."

She told St. Louis Public Radio: "We would like to send the message that prosecuting attorneys can no longer abuse their power and expect it to be swept under the rug."

Griffin told CBS St. Louis that McCulloch and his assistants violated more than 15 rules of professional conduct, including:

  • Presenting witnesses to the grand jury – including Darren Wilson – who McCulloch, Alizadeh and Whirley knew or should have known would make false statements, is not exhaustive. ...
  • Presenting the grand jury with a legal instruction ruled unconstitutional for decades.
  • Mislabeling and misplacing evidence related to key witness Dorian Johnson.
  • Failing to provide specific charges to the jury after “dumping” on them thousands of pages of interviews and evidence the complainants cite as going above gross negligence.

McCulloch allowed "perjured testimony to be presented to the grand jury, and that is a direct violation of the Code of Professional Ethics," Griffin said.

The complaint was filed shortly after one of the grand jury members sued to remove the lifetime gag order placed on the panel, arguing that McCulloch did not accurately portray the proceedings in the public.


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