I recall that during the prosecution of George Zimmerman for the homicide of Trayvon Martin, the Florida prosecutors filed a probably cause affidavit that omitted exculpatory and explanatory facts. At the time I wondered if Florida procedure and ethics rules permitted that -- a question I never learned the answer to. It seemed to me that the Florida prosecutor knew that the "murder two" charges she wanted to pursue were not obtainable from a grand jury becuase they just weren't warranted.
Now comes a Washington Post article about the grand jury investigation into the homicide of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, reporting that the grand jury is receiving all the information that investigators have received and that the process is "atypical." Our readers know that the ethics rules sometimes permit and sometimes forbid lawyers from offering just their side of the story. Here's what a local criminal defense lawyer has to say:
Susan W. McGraugh, a criminal-defense lawyer and a professor at the Saint Louis University School of Law, said that the approach is allowed under the law and that prosecutors sometimes use it in high-profile cases.
“The prosecutor may want cover, which they can get by sharing the responsibility with the grand jury,” McGraugh said. “So when the public reacts to what does or does not happen, they can go back to the fact that the grand jury played a large role in the decision. They can say, ‘We let these jurors, who are your peers, hear what witnesses had to say. This was their decision.’ ”