Leaks in Michael Brown Death Investigation

I haven't been following the Michael Brown case lately, but I am interested in the issue of law enforcement leaks that favor Officer Wilson at a time when the grand jury is considering whether to charge him.

The spokesman for the St. Louis prosecutor ’s office, Ed Magee, blows off the leaks with:

“There’s really nothing to investigate,” Magee said Wednesday. “We don’t have control over anybody leaking anything. All we can control is people in our office and the grand jury, and it’s not coming from us or the grand jury.”

He blames federal officials because his office has been sharing information with the Department of Justice and the articles with the leaked information refer to the sources as "officials briefed on the investigation." [More...]

If the prosecutor's office shared information with other law enforcement agencies, the prosecutor still has an ethical obligation to take affirmative steps to prevent leaks. They can't just play Freddie Prinz and say "It's not my job."

From the ABA Standards on Prosecution Function

Standard 3-1.4 Public Statements

(a) A prosecutor should not make or authorize the making of an extrajudicial statement that a reasonable person would expect to be disseminated by means of public communication if the prosecutor knows or reasonably should know that it will have a substantial likelihood of prejudicing a criminal proceeding.

(b) A prosecutor should exercise reasonable care to prevent investigators, law enforcement personnel, employees, or other persons assisting or associated with the prosecutor from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under this Standard.

What reasonable steps has his office taken? And without an investigation, how does he know it's not investigators with his or another state office involved in the investigation who is leaking? Maybe the journalists who wrote up the information used the word "official" to provide an extra layer or anonymity. First, one journalist used the word "law enforcement official." That includes local cops and prosecutors. Statutes use the phrase "law enforcement officals" to include anyone whose job it is to enforce the law. If you have a badge, you are a "law enforcement official." Even by itself, the word "official" would include those working in an investigative capacity for the state bureau of investigation. It would also include persons in the coroner's office.

I don't see the motive for the feds to be leaking pro-Wilson documents. I do see a motive for local and state officials to want to help one of their own.

On a related note, Brown family lawyer, Benjamin Crump, shows he now knows how to accept "the facts beyond change" and build a strategy around them, rather than arguing his preferred set of facts: He agrees there was an altercation in the car and says that's not the issue.

“Several independent witnesses indicated there was a brief altercation between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson at the patrol car,” Crump said in a statement. “What we want to know is why Officer Wilson shot Michael Brown multiple times and killed him even though he was more than 20 feet away from his patrol car; this is the crux of the matter!”

I think he's right about that.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Nice to hear (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 09:02:05 PM EST
    you on this

    this whole case starts and ends, (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 10:04:35 PM EST
    with an out of control police officer, officer Wilson. for whatever reason, officer Wilson chose to take what amounts to a jaywalking incident, and by the time he's done, he has single-handidly escalated it to the level of a capital crime, ending with the death, by multiple gunshot wounds, of mr. brown. at no point during the incident, did officer Wilson follow generically standard police procedures.

    this abject failure, resulting in an unnecessary death, also precipitated weeks of angry protests on the streets of ferguson, additional unnecessary costs, both fiscal and physical, and the utter meltdown of every law enforcement agency in the state of MO, as they struggle to protect officer Wilson from having to account for his actions.

    those are facts, undeniable and glaring, and no amount of pooh poohing will make them magically disappear. the hollow, racist core of the state of MO has been exposed to the world. no matter how hard they try, state and local officials can't stuff that genie back in the lamp.