A grand juror in the Michael Brown case is suing St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch to try and lift the restrictions on speaking about the proceedings, saying he or she disagrees on how the facts are being portrayed to the public.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri is representing the juror, named in the case as “Grand Juror Doe,” in the lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Missouri.
The grand jury's decision on Nov. 24 not to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson – who has since left the force – in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown sparked nationwide protests.
In the lawsuit, which was reviewed by BuzzFeed News, Doe argues that he or she should be granted relief from a Missouri law that forbids them from speaking about the case.
Doe contends that in this instance, their First Amendment rights should outweigh grand jury secrecy rules.
"Under the particular circumstances of this case, permitting [McCulloch] to prosecute [Doe] for speaking about [Doe's] perspective on the grand jury proceedings in State of Missouri v. Darren Wilson does not advance the interests served by the confidentiality of grand jury proceedings and, further, defeats the interests secured by the First Amendment," the lawsuit states.
Doe says in the suit that he or she does not believe McCulloch has kept his promise to maintain transparency in the case.
For instance, Doe disagrees with how McCulloch described the jurors' opinions of the witnesses, the law and the evidence in the case in a press conference shortly after the decision was announced.
Doe says the jurors' opinions in the case have been misrepresented — most notably the "implication that all grand jurors believed that there was no support for any charges."
In addition, Doe wants to discuss publicly certain elements of the case that he or she believes differed from other cases.
"[Doe] also wishes to express opinions about: whether the release of records has truly provided transparency; [Doe's] impression that evidence was presented differently than in other cases, with the insinuation that Brown, not Wilson, was the wrongdoer; and questions about whether the grand jury was clearly counseled on the law," the lawsuit states.
Doe says that they want to become a part of the national dialogue about the case.
"[Doe] believes that by sharing [Doe's] experience, [Doe] could aid in educating the public about how grand juries function," the lawsuit says. "[Doe] would also like to use [Doe's] own experiences to advocate for legislative change to the way grand juries are conducted in Missouri."
A request for comment from McCulloch's office was not immediately returned.
Here's the lawsuit:
The lawsuit was not the only legal action filed against McCulloch on Monday.
KMOV reported that a group of seven Missouri residents also filed a bar complaint against McCulloch and Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Kathi Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley violated 15 Missouri Rules of Professional Conduct during the grand jury proceedings.
Some of the alleged violations, according to the complaint, include "presenting witnesses to the grand jury including Darren Wilson, who McCulloch, Alizadeh and Whirley knew or should have known would make false statements."
In December, McColloch said he knew some witnesses were lying to the grand jury.
Stephanie McNeal is a social news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Stephanie McNeal at email@example.com.
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