Justice Opinion

My thoughts about the justice stories that are hitting the headlines -- with a focus on stories about race, guns, and self-defense. Find out where I stand.

Justice Outreach

This is the platform for our justice advocacy efforts, currently focused on the Talking Race Project, The Hurt Words Project, and Juvenile Outreach. Find out what we’re up to.

Justice Education

I frequently conduct CLEs and seminars for Bar Associations, Criminal Defense Associations, the National Trial Lawyers, and law schools. Find out what I’m talking about.

Why is the Ferguson Grand Jury Taking So Long?

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

In a grand jury presentment, the standards of evidence are relaxed, and there are no defense attorneys to advocate for the accused. This means that prosecutors can, and often do, stack the evidence in favor of their case in order to ensure an indictment -- often excluding details that would support the case for the accused.

In the Ferguson case, however, it doesn't appear the prosecutor is holding anything back. By all accounts, McCulloch has presented a bulk of the evidence, such as having the medical examiner hired by the Brown family testify -- likely more than would ever be allowed in jury trial. Some have expressed concern regarding whether this is proper.

Is McCulloch weakening his case by presenting so much of the evidence? He is a man with a law enforcement background, a man sympathetic to cops, a man whose own father was shot and killed by a black man.

Would McCulloch intentionally sabotage his case to avoid charges for Wilson?

Is There Audio of Encounter at Officer Wilson's Police Cruiser?

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

I joined Michael Smirconish to discuss what evidence we may receive, should discovery be made available in the event that a grand jury does not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown. In the video above I reference reports that Officer Wilson accidentally changed frequencies on his radio during the encounter in the car, and there may be recording of what was heard on that other channel.

Charges Against Sarah Markham Dropped

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

sarah charges web

Last week, Sarah Markham was reunited with her son, and she regained the right to care for her baby without supervision by DCF. This week, upon confirmation that Sarah had visited a new pediatrician and saw a nutritionist, the criminal child neglect charges have been dismissed as well. The prosecutors took their responsibility seriously, they looked at all the information objectively, and they exercised their authority properly in dismissing the case. That is more than can be said for DCF, who misused their authority while they, in effect, held Sarah’s baby hostage for almost five months, forcing us to fight a broken system to regain custody. That was a heinous waste of valuable resources which could have been spent on a family in true need.

Is the Ferguson Grand Jury Being Properly Conducted?

Written by Mark O'Mara on . Posted in Opinion

I joined Jeffrey Toobin and Sunny Hostin on AC360 to talk about the Ferguson Grand Jury. We all agree that the grand jury process in this case is very unusual. It’s taking much longer than a typical grand jury, and the prosecutor is presenting more evidence than a grand jury would typically use to decide whether it is more likely than not that a crime was committed. We disagree, however, regarding what this all means. Sunny Hostin suggests that the prosecutor is trying to overwhelm the grand jury, confusing them with so much information that they’ll be more likely to tender a “no true bill.” I suggest that, considering the massive scrutiny any decision will have to bear, the prosecutor is going above and beyond in his presentation to ensure the jury’s decision can survive scrutiny. The essence of a grand jury is for the community to decide such issues. As long as it is done properly (and we will have the transcripts to ascertain that) I accept the decision to create a "super grand jury," giving it much more evidence than usual. I disagree that they are only being confused, and I bet they will deny confusion if and when they speak.

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