Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Grand Jury and Feguson


I watched the news announcement last night, and knew from the way the man in charge went through things that there'd be no indictment, and there wasn't.

What I didn't know, until friends started posting about such things, is that it's actually really rare for a grand jury in the US to return a "no true bill" finding.  (Here's a source: FiveThirtyEight: "It's Incredibly Rare for a Grand Jury to do What Ferguson's Just Did")  According to this article,

The data suggests he was barely exaggerating: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.
The article goes on to note that you can't directly compare a Federal and State Grand Juries, but it still gives a sense that it's really rare for a Grand Jury not to indict someone when a prosecutor argues they should. 

The Nation has an article up about "Why It's Impossible to Indict a Cop."

And Think Progress has an article up where "Legal Experts Explain Why the Ferguson Grand Jury Was Set Up for Failure."

It's a busy day here, as always, but I'm feeling ignorant and subdued.  I really don't understand the Grand Jury process at all (though I've been learning a lot in the past few days).

I have a feeling that I'm witnessing, though from afar, one of those moments that's going to be very important in history.  Or maybe I just hope that this will be one of those moments where you point back and say, "a big change began as a result of this."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post, Bardiac.Most comments I'm reading today (about Ferguson) seem so certain about what did or not not happen in Ferguson. I love that your post considers the significance of the institutional power structures that are problematic while also avoiding definitive proclamations that aren't supported. You post suggests a position of inquisitive intellectual humility--a standpoint too few of us ever adopt. Thanks for the links!