Ferguson Grand Jury Gets Investigated For Misconduct, Thanks to Twitter
The grand jury case against Officer Darren Wilson, the now-infamous policeman who shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown nearly two months ago, is apparently rife with controversy. Not only was it revealed earlier this week that the Ferguson government is charging jaw-dropping fees to release records about the shooting, now the entire Ferguson grand jury is being investigated for a leak possibly made by one of the jurors. How was the leak revealed? Via social media, of course.
Here's what happened: On Wednesday morning, a Twitter user sent out a tweet saying that she'd spoken to one of the members of the grand jury; she claimed that, currently, there isn't enough evidence to arrest Wilson. “I know someone sitting on the grand jury of this case. There isn’t enough at this point to warrant an arrest,” @thesusannichols tweeted at 9:45 a.m., according to the Washington Post. Although the account was soon after deleted, the tweet was picked up, screenshot, and sent around almost immediately. (Tip: If you're going to break confidentiality rules in such a high-profile case, probably best not to advertise the fact via social media.)
Making matters worse? According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, @thesusannichols hasn't exactly been an unbiased observer — in the past, she's actually tweeted her support for Wilson.
The incident is now being looked into by the county prosecutor's office. If it's true that @thesusannichols spoke to one of the members of the jury about the case, it could be a big deal: Jurors aren't even supposed to watch news coverage of the case, let alone chat to their friends about the evidence. In fact, the breach might mean a whole new group of jurors need to be brought in — although a less extreme repercussion might involve just the one juror being removed.
Said the attorney for Brown’s family, Ben Crump, in a statement:
If this allegation is true and there is a member of the grand jury who is discussing the case with a Darren Wilson supporters the appropriate thing for the prosecutor to do is impanel a new grand jury. If this person is discussing the case outside of the grand jury it is wholly inappropriate. It’s an issue of fairness for Michael Brown’s family.
As it stands, the grand jury has until January 7, 2015 to decide whether Wilson committed a crime. According to the New York Times, though, the jury will have likely finished hearing all the evidence by the end of this month and there's a big chance they might hand down their judgment sooner — unless the leak forces a disruption in the process, that is.
The strain of restarting or delaying the proceedings would undoubtedly be felt by the residents of Ferguson. Just last Sunday, new protests erupted in the city, and many have said that the unrest will continue until Wilson is indicted. And if he's found not guilty? Well, there's no telling how furious the town will be.
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