Judge Denies Petitions To Release Michael Brown’s Juvenile Records

Court officials respond to lawsuits and allegations that Michael Brown had a juvenile record.


Local media reports that a St. Louis County judge has denied the petitions from the media to release Michael Brown’s juvenile records.

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Associated Press

Michael Brown

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5. A Missouri court official said Wednesday that Michael Brown was not convicted of any Class A or Class B felonies as a juvenile, and was not facing any charges for serious crimes when he died, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Following his death, the Post-Dispatch had filed a petition in St. Louis County Circuit Court to unseal Brown’s juvenile records.

After the Post-Dispatch filed the petition for Brown’s juvenile records, its deputy managing editor Adam Goodman wrote:

The court filing is just one avenue of many in our continuing commitment to cover a significant news story for our community.

We have taken this action as a professional news organization, independently and not in conjunction with any other organization, as we seek to report facts and not rely on innuendo or speculation.

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6. The court held a hearing Wednesday and is still deciding whether the records will be released. However, officials told the Post-Dispatch that there were no serious charges against Brown in their files.

Cynthia Harcourt, a lawyer for St. Louis County Juvenile Officer Kip Seeley, argued against releasing those records, but acknowledged there were no convictions for the most serious types of felonies.

After the hearing, she told the Post-Dispatch Brown was not facing any serious felony charges when he died. Class A felonies include second-degree murder and first-degree robbery; the penalties in adult court range from 10 years in prison to death. Class B felonies include voluntary manslaughter, second-degree robbery and first-degree burglary, with a maximum penalty of five to 15 years.

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7. The Washington Post spoke to Harcourt following the hearing and reported “she couldn’t confirm or deny whether a juvenile record existed for Brown.”

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8. The St. Louis paper is one of two media outlets to challenge the courts to release Brown’s juvenile record.

Conservative blogger Charles C. Johnson, editor-in-chief of internet news magazine GotNews.com, filed his own lawsuit against St. Louis County Court for Brown’s juvenile record.

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Today my lawyer & I filed a lawsuit in to release #MichaelBrown juvenile criminal record. I'll be posting soon. #HandsUpDontShoot #Ferguson

— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson)
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I had two law enforcement contacts who told me #MichaelBrown had juvenile criminal record. I will be suing to get the answer. #Ferguson

— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson)
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11. In the lawsuit, Johnson alleges that at the time of his death Brown was facing a second-degree murder charge, which he says he has confirmed.

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Confirmed earlier report that #MichaelBrown had juvenile arrest record involving second degree murder... Working on getting report #Ferguson

— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson)
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13. Johnson also wrote on GotNews.com that there were rumors that Brown was affiliated with the Crips gang.

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14. Johnson’s allegations against Brown were picked up by a few other sites and shared widely, like this story posted to IJreview.com.

Story alleging Michael Brown was involved in second-degree murder has more than 63,000 shares http://t.co/rmfUJfnRr8

— Mike Hayes (@michaelhayes)
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15. And this story posted to YoungCons.com, which has been shared over 23,000 times.

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16. Post-Dispatch reporter Jeremy Kohler tweeted from today’s hearing on Michael Brown’s alleged juvenile record.

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#MikeBrown was not facing any serious felony charge at time of death and has never been convicted of a serious felony in family court.

— Jeremy Kohler (@jeremykohler)
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That is according to Cynthia Harcourt, lawyer for the juvenile officer in SLC family court.

— Jeremy Kohler (@jeremykohler)
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#MikeBrown was not facing the equivalent of A or B level felonies and had not been convicted of one.

— Jeremy Kohler (@jeremykohler)
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An example of a Class A felony is 2nd degree murder. An example of a B felony is 1st degree burglary.

— Jeremy Kohler (@jeremykohler)
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21. Johnson also responded on Twitter to the reports that Brown had not been charged or convicted of any serious felonies.

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The opposing attorney claimed that there were no open #MichaelBrown records. Yeah, that's why I sued to release them. Duh. #Ferguson

— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson)
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#MichaelBrown attorney Anthony Gray today accused me & St. Louis Post Dispatch of character assassinating Brown. Ridiculous.

— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson)
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Here is the St. Louis media mobbing #MichaelBrown attorney. #Ferguson

— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson)
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What's a "serious" felony? #MichaelBrown #Ferguson

— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson)
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26. 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. His death sparked two weeks of protests and unrest in the St. Louis area. A grand jury hearing is currently underway regarding the incident.

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AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Lesley McSpadden, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, wipes away tears as Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family picture of himself, his son and a young child during a news conference in Jennings, Mo. on Aug. 11.

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Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mike Hayes at mike@buzzfeed.com.

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