In a Supreme Court case of 22 years ago, Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative jurist if there ever was one, described the proper role of a grand jury.


Quoting from earlier cases, Scalia said this:


It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor…As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.


This is not the way the grand jury dealt with the case in which Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed suspected shoplifter Michael Brown. Rather, prosecutor Bob McCulloch allowed Wilson to testify at length and played the role of a defense attorney in emphasizing potentially exculpatory evidence.


McCulloch’s departure from grand jury protocols as described by Scalia is precisely why the lack of an indictment against Wilson has created such controversy among legal experts and much of the general public.

In a Supreme Court case of 22 years ago, Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative jurist if there ever was one, described the proper role of a grand jury.

Quoting from earlier cases, Scalia said this:

It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor…As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.

This is not the way the grand jury dealt with the case in which Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed suspected shoplifter Michael Brown. Rather, prosecutor Bob McCulloch allowed Wilson to testify at length and played the role of a defense attorney in emphasizing potentially exculpatory evidence.

McCulloch’s departure from grand jury protocols as described by Scalia is precisely why the lack of an indictment against Wilson has created such controversy among legal experts and much of the general public.