The one thing that kept going through my mind as the world waited and waited and waited for the grand jury decision in the case of State of Missouri vs. Darren Wilson was, “Man, I wish every defendant got the level of due process that guy’s getting.”

Because let me tell you, folks, if it had been Michael Brown’s case — or yours or mine, for that matter — in front of that grand jury, there wouldn’t have been weeks of waiting for a decision. The grand jury would have indicted and been home before lunch.

I’ve been in Superior Court when a grand jury is meeting more times than I can count. I’ve seen a couple of hundred cases at a time handed to them. And I’ve seen those cases come back within hours with every single blessed one of them marked “a true bill.” Many of those defendants that go to trial are either exonerated or found guilty of lesser charges by the full or “petit” jury.

No less a conservative jurist than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has explained the purpose of the grand jury as “not to determine guilt or innocence, but to assess whether there is adequate basis for bringing a criminal charge. … That has always been so; and to make the assessment, it has always been thought sufficient to hear only the prosecutor’s side.”

A typical grand jury hears only what the prosecutor wants it to hear and routinely rubber-stamps whatever the DA asks for.

The way prosecutor Robert McCulloch presented the Wilson case to the grand jury, however, was, to say the least, extraordinary. Rather than present the evidence most favorable to the state and ask for a specific charge, as it’s usually done, McCulloch decided he’d present all the evidence, good and bad, to the grand jury, and let it decide.

Sounds great, huh? I agree. I’d love it if all grand juries were like that. But they’re not. Not for the likes of you and me. Instead of the usual procedure, McCulloch transformed the grand jury into a mini-trial of the matter — which his office then proceeded to deliberately lose for the state.

If you look at the transcripts, you see DAs vigorously cross-examining the witnesses who support what would have normally been the state’s case, while treating the supposed defendant with kid gloves and accepting his story at face value. (“If he had not grabbed the gun while he was hitting you in the face, would you still have used deadly force”?)

St. Louis County Assistant District Attorneys Kathy Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley, who examined Wilson, didn’t even bother to cross-examine him on the unlikely things in his testimony. Things like Wilson’s claim that Michael Brown hit him in the face — hard enough to make Wilson fear for his life — with his right hand, a hand Wilson claimed was still holding stolen cigarillos from a convenience store robbery, and yet didn’t break or damage any of those cigarillos. (Q: “Were there any broken cigarillos or anything in your car later?” A: “No.”)

Or the claim that Michael Brown was “reaching into his waistband” as he supposedly charged Wilson, even though, since he was unarmed, there was absolutely nothing to reach for. Or Wilson’s assertion that Brown ran 20-30 feet away from the police car before turning back and charging another 10 feet back toward Wilson, when Brown (as even McCulloch later admitted in his own press conference) died about 150 feet away from the car.

Any DA would have asked these questions — if he or she was trying even halfheartedly for an indictment.

Perhaps the most stunning thing the DA’s office did in throwing this case occurred on Sept. 16, shortly before Wilson testified. At that time, Alizadeh handed the jury a 1979 Missouri statute that says that an officer has the right to use deadly force if “immediately necessary to effect the arrest or prevent the escape from custody.” Alizadeh did not, however, mention that statutes like that had been found unconstitutional six years later by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The St. Louis County DA’s office threw that hearing. And it did so as clumsily as a novice WWE wrestler taking his first dive pursuant to that night’s script.

Darren Wilson may or may not be guilty of murdering Michael Brown. One thing is undeniable, however: He did not receive something that is supposed to be so fundamental a principle of our system that it’s carved into the front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building: “equal justice under law.”

Darren Wilson got breaks from the prosecution that no one else would have. And that is why people are in the streets.

(10) comments

Frank Staples

Dusty knows that there was a big lynch mob scene going on in Ferguson, just like the rest of us. And no, Sunny, I'm not the slightest bit racist. There were dudes coming out of the woodwork claiming the "gentle giant" who had just strong armed a shopkeeper was shot in the back with his hands up. While I don't like all the actions of all the cops I certainly agree that the best way to get shot by law enforcement ( or me, for that matter ) is to try to get my gun away from me.

Mark Hayes

" broken cigarillos" [lol][lol].

gail hanley

Francis, don't encourage Dusty to get his own TV show. We were just lucky enough to get rid of Honey Bimbo. I might be channel surfing and get nauseous.

Mark Hayes

The best one yet is that " broken cigarillos " I still chuckle just thinking about he made a point of that, bet that would have been a real courtroom drama scene, should sell that script Rhoades.[lol]

News flash!! When a cop says you are under arrest don't resist and by all means don't fight a cop or try to disarm him or her This is good advice for all people. Black, white or green. The situations of Garner and Brown are vastly different. But both would be alive today had they followed the above advice which is common sense to most.

Mark Hayes

" Were there any broken cigarillos " , just read that, your a hoot man, a real Frank Cannon you are.[lol][lol]. You should get your own TV show, Detective Dumpty Rhoades, crime fighter extraordinaire .[cool]

Dwight Kidd

Why didn't Darren Wilson shoot Darian Johnson? He was black also. Maybe he wasn't as high as Michel Brown and followed orders. Most if not all of these high profile police shootings of blacks are the direct result of not following orders. They brought it on themselves.

Mark Hayes

I would comment but it will be deleted, so I agree " just sit down and shut up ", you have no more information on this than anyone else, always trying to be more than you are.

Walter B Bull

Your thoughts are shallow Dusty. They are also insulting to the prosecutor and to any one who understands street justice.
1-Darren Wilson resigned his job to protect himself and his family from street justice or maybe from street execution.
2-Pressure was put on witnesses to recant false testimony (Brown was shot in the back) Perjury?
3-The grand jury process works to protects the identity of those witnesses who would have to be identified in open court.
4-And people are in the streets because every race hustler within a thousand miles showed up for the "peaceful" demonstrations.
You are an Officer of the Court Dusty and when you have nothing important to say you should just "sit down and shut up."

gail hanley

Spoken like a true attorney. The man that sits at a desk and reads for a living. Not a man that takes a weapon every day of his life out the door with him to defend the guy at the desk. So the little guy at the desk can put these good for nothing criminals right back on the street to commit another offense. What exactly are you unclear about here, Dusty? Are you unclear why the grand jury reached that conclusion? Or are you unclear why Wilson shot Brown? Or are you unclear why this was even a story? Let me help you. Brown messed with the wrong cop. If it were me, and I was a cop and some thug reached into my car I would have shot him right then and there. To your confusion about the grand jury. Seems like your experience as an attorney is getting in the way of your judgement. They look at the evidence and decide whether there is enough to convict. Maybe in your little legal world defending Michael Brown types it's crystal clear. But out here in the real world average people tend to look at the facts and decide not twist them to mold the outcome they want. It's sad when an attorney loses faith in the system he's been manipulating over the years. Perhaps you and Levy can make a movie together and call it "Sullivan's Island Revisited". Either way it pains me to see you so disillusioned.

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