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Wilson grand juror considers federal court in fight to speak about experience

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announceson Nov. 24, 2014, that a grand jury has chosen not to charge Darren Wilson in Michael Brown's death.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announces on Nov. 24, 2014, that a grand jury has chosen not to charge Darren Wilson in Michael Brown's death.

A member of the grand jury that decided to not charge a former Ferguson police officer in the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown will likely head to federal court to challenge Missouri’s rules around grand jury secrecy.

The juror wanted to be able to violate the oath of secrecy to “contribute to the current dialogue around race relations” and to correct what the juror saw as misconduct by St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear the case. Two lowercourts have said the state’s oath requiring grand jury secrecy does not violate the rights of the unidentified grand juror.

The juror originally filed the case in federal court, but judges there said state court issues needed to be considered first. The state Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case opens the door for the federal proceedings to be restarted, but it was not clear when that would happen.

“Our plan is to exhaust the options in the Missouri court system so we can get back to federal court and pursue our First Amendment claim,” the juror’s attorney, ACLU of Missouri legal director Anthony Rothert told St. Louis Public Radio in December. He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The juror was one of 12 people on the panel that decided Darren Wilson, a white, former officer with the Ferguson Police Department, did not commit a crime when he shot and killed Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old. Rothert has said his client wanted to present a view different than the narrative outlined by McCulloch.

“We do not find that making specific disclosures about grand jury proceedings is necessary for [the juror] to reach many of her goals stated in the petition,” Appeals Court Judge Colleen Dolan wrote in December. “We believe that Doe would be able to address all of these issues without specifically divulging details of particular proceedings.”

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.