Archive for the ‘Ferguson’ Category

Manipulate PDFs with Python

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Manipulate PDFs with Python by Tim Arnold.

From the overview:

PDF documents are beautiful things, but that beauty is often only skin deep. Inside, they might have any number of structures that are difficult to understand and exasperating to get at. The PDF reference specification (ISO 32000-1) provides rules, but it is programmers who follow them, and they, like all programmers, are a creative bunch.

That means that in the end, a beautiful PDF document is really meant to be read and its internals are not to be messed with. Well, we are programmers too, and we are a creative bunch, so we will see how we can get at those internals.

Still, the best advice if you have to extract or add information to a PDF is: don’t do it. Well, don’t do it if there is any way you can get access to the information further upstream. If you want to scrape that spreadsheet data in a PDF, see if you can get access to it before it became part of the PDF. Chances are, now that is is inside the PDF, it is just a bunch of lines and numbers with no connection to its former structure of cells, formats, and headings.

If you cannot get access to the information further upstream, this tutorial will show you some of the ways you can get inside the PDF using Python. (emphasis in the original)

Definitely a collect the software and experiment type post!

Is there a collection of “nasty” PDFs on the web? Thinking that would be a useful think to have for testing tools such as the ones listed in this post. Not to mention getting experience with extracting information from them. Suggestions?

I first saw this in a tweet by Christophe Lalanne.

Michael Brown – Grand Jury Witness Index – Part 1

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

I have completed the first half of the grand jury witness index for the Michael Brown case, covering volumes 1 – 12. (index volumes 13 -24, forthcoming)

The properties with each witness, along with others, will be used to identify that witness using a topic map.

Donate here to support this ongoing effort.

  1. Volume 1 Page 25 Line: 7 – Medical legal investigator – His report is Exhibit #1. (in released documents, 2014-5143-narrative-report-01.pdf)
  2. Volume 2 Page 20 Line: 6 – Crime Scene Detective with St. Louis County Police
  3. Volume 3 Page 7 Line: 7 – Crime Scene Detective with St. Louis County Police – 22 years with St. Louis – 14 years as crime scene detective
  4. Volume 3 Page 51 Line: 12 – Forensic Pathologist – St Louis City Medical Examiner’s Office (assistant medical examiner)
  5. Volume 4 Page 17 Line: 7 – Dorian Johnson
  6. Volume 5 Page 12 Line: 9 – Police Sergent – Ferguson Police – Since December 2001 (Volume-5 Page 14 – Prepared no written report)
  7. Volume 5 Page 75 Line: 11 – Detective St. Louis Police Department Two and 1/2 years
  8. Volume 5 Page 140 Line: 11 – Female FBI agent three and one-half years
  9. Volume 5 Page 196 Line: 23 – Darren Wilson (Volume-5 Page 197 talked to prosecutor before appearing)
  10. Volume 6 Page 149 Line: 18 – Witness #10
  11. Volume 6 Page 232 Line: 5 – Witness with marketing firm
  12. Volume 7 Page 9 Line: 1 – Canfield Green Apartments (female, no #)
  13. Volume 7 Page 153 Line: 9 – coming from a young lady’s house, passenger in white Monte Carlo
  14. Volume 8 Page 97 Line: 14 – Canfield Green Apartments, second floor, collecting Social Security, brother and his wife come over
  15. Volume 8 Page 173 Line: 9 – Detective St. Louis County Police Department – Since March 2008 (as detective) **primary case officer**
  16. Volume 8 Page 196 Line: 2 – Previously testified on Sept. 9th, page 7 Crime Scene Detective with St. Louis County Police – 22 years with St. Louis – 14 years as crime scene detective
  17. Volume 9 Page 7 Line: 7 – Sales consultant – Canfield Drive
  18. Volume 9 Page 68 Line: 15 – Visitor to Canfield Green Apartment Complex with wife
  19. Volume-10 Page 7 Line: 10 – Wife of witness in volume 9? visitor to complex
  20. Volume-10 Page 68 Line: 24 – Police officer, St. Louis County Police Department, assigned as a firearm and tool mark examiner in the crime laboratory.
  21. Volume-10 Page 128 Line: 8 – Detective, Crime Scene Unit for St. Louis County, 18 years as police officer, 3 years with crime scene – photographed Darren Wilson
  22. Volume-11 Page 6 Line: 21 – Canfield Apartment Complex, top floor, Living with girlfriend
  23. Volume-11 Page 59 Line: 7 – Girlfriend of witness at volume 11, page 6 – prosecutor has her renounce prior statements
  24. Volume-11 Page 80 Line: 7 – Drug chemist – crime lab
  25. Volume-11 Page 111 Line: 7 – Latent (fingerprint) examiner for the St. Louis County Police Department.
  26. Volume-11 Page 137 Line: 7 – Canfield Green Apartment Complex, fiancee for 3 1/2 to 4 years, south end of building, one floor above them, has children (boys)
  27. Volume-11 Page 169 Line: 16 – Doesn’t live at the Canfield Apartments, returning on August 9th to return?, in a van with husband, two daughters and granddaughter
  28. Volume-12 Page 11 Line: 7 – Husband of the witness driving the van, volume 11, page 169
  29. Volume-12 Page 51 Line: 15 – Special agent with the FBI assigned to the St. Louis field office, almost 24 years
  30. Volume-12 Page 102 Line: 18 – Lives in Northwinds Apartments, white ’99 Monte Carlo
  31. Volume-12 Page 149 Line: 6 – Contractor, retaining wall and brick patios

Caution: This list presents witnesses as they appeared and does not include the playing of prior statements and interviews. Those will be included in a separate index of statements because they play a role in identifying the witnesses who appeared before the grand jury.

The outcome of the Michael Brown grand jury was not the fault of the members of the grand jury. It was a result that was engineered by departing from usual and customary practices, distortion of evidence and misleading the grand jury about applicable law, among other things. All of that is hiding in plain sight in the grand jury transcripts.

Other Michael Brown Posts

Missing From Michael Brown Grand Jury Transcripts December 7, 2014. (The witness index I propose to replace.)

New recordings, documents released in Michael Brown case [LA Times Asks If There’s More?] Yes! December 9, 2014 (before the latest document dump on December 14, 2014).

Michael Brown Grand Jury – Presenting Evidence Before Knowing the Law December 10, 2014.

How to Indict Darren Wilson (Michael Brown Shooting) December 12, 2014.

More Missing Evidence In Ferguson (Michael Brown) December 15, 2014.

Michael Brown – Grand Jury Witness Index – Part 1 December 17, 2014. (above)

More Missing Evidence In Ferguson (Michael Brown)

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Saturday’s data dump from St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch is still short at least two critical pieces of evidence. There is no copy of the “documents that we gave you to help in your deliberation.” And, there is no copy of the police map to “…guide the grand jury.”

I. The “documents that we gave you to help in your deliberations:”

The prosecutors gave the grand jury written documents that supplemented their various oral misstatements of the law in this case.

From Volume 24 - November 21, 2014 - Page  138: 
...

2 You have all the information you need in 

3 those documents that we gave you to help in your 

4 deliberation. 
...

That follows verbal mis-statement of the law by Ms. Whirley:

Volume 24 - November 21, 2014 - Page  137

...

13 	    MS. WHIRLEY: Is that in order to vote 

14 true bill, you also must consider whether you 

15 believe Darren Wilson, you find probable cause, 

16 that's the standard to believe that Darren Wilson 

17 committed the offense and the offenses are what is 

18 in the indictment and you must find probable cause 

19 to believe that Darren Wilson did not act in lawful 

20 self—defense, and you've got the last sheet talks 

21 about self—defense and talks about officer's use of 

22 force, because then you must also have probable 

23 cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not use 

24 lawful force in making an arrest. So you are 

25 considering self—defense and use of force in making 

Volume 24 - November 21, 2014 - Page  138 

Grand Jury — Ferguson Police Shooting Grand Jury 11/21/2014 

1 an arrest.
... 

Where are the “documents that we gave you to help in your deliberation?”

Have you seen those documents? I haven’t.

And consider this additional misstatement of the law:

Volume 24 - November 21, 2014 - Page  139 

...
8 And the one thing that Sheila has 

9 explained as far as what you must find and as she 

10 said, it is kind of in Missouri it is kind of, the 

11 State has to prove in a criminal trial, the State 

12 has to prove that the person did not act in lawful 

13 self—defense or did not use lawful force in making, 

14 it is kind of like we have to prove the negative. 

15 So in this case because we are talking 

16 about probable cause, as we've discussed, you must 

17 find probable cause to believe that he committed the 

18 offense that you're considering and you must find 

19 probable cause to believe that he did not act in 

20 lawful self—defense. Not that he did, but that he 

21 did not and that you find probable cause to believe 

22 that he did not use lawful force in making the 

23 arrest. 
...

Just for emphasis:

the State has to prove that the person did not act in lawful self—defense or did not use lawful force in making, it is kind of like we have to prove the negative.

How hard is it to prove a negative? James Randi, James Randi Lecture @ Caltech – Cant Prove a Negative, points out that proving a negative is a logical impossibility.

The grand jury was given a logically impossible task in order to indict Darren Wilson.

What choice did the grand jury have but to return a “no true bill?”

More Misguidance: The police map, Grand Jury 101

A police map was created to guide the jury in its deliberations, a map that reflected the police view of the location of witnesses.

Volume 24 - November 21, 2014 - Page  26 

Grand Jury — Ferguson Police Shooting Grand Jury 11/21/2014 

...

10	 Q (By Ms. Alizadeh) Extra, okay, that's 

11 right. And you indicated that you, along with other 

12 investigators prepared this, which is your 

13 interpretation based upon the statements made of 

14 witnesses as to where various eyewitnesses were 

15 during, when I say shooting, obviously, there was a 

16 time period that goes along, the beginning of the 

17 time of the beginning of the incident until after 

18 the shooting had been done. And do you still feel 

19 that this map accurately reflects where witnesses 

20 said they were? 

21 A I do. 

22	 Q And just for your instruction, this just, 

23 this map is for your purposes in your deliberations 

24 and if you disagree with anything that's on the map, 

25 these little sticky things come right off. So 

Volume 24 - November 21, 2014 - Page  27 

Grand Jury — Ferguson Police Shooting Grand Jury 11/21/2014 

1 supposedly they come right off. 

2 A They do. 

3	 Q If you feel that this witness is not in 

4 the right place, you can move any of these stickers 

5 that you want and put them in the places where you 

6 think they belong. 

7 This is just something that is 

8 representative of what this witness believes where 

9 people were. If you all do with this what you will. 

10 Also there was a legend that was 

11 provided for all of you regarding the numbers 

12 because the numbers that were assigned witnesses are 

13 not the same numbers as the witnesses testimony in 

14 this grand jury. 

...

Two critical statements:

 

11... And you indicated that you, along with other 

12 investigators prepared this, which is your 

13 interpretation based upon the statements made of 

14 witnesses as to where various eyewitnesses were 

15 during, when I say shooting,

So the map represents the detective’s opinion about other witnesses, and:


3	 Q If you feel that this witness is not in 

4 the right place, you can move any of these stickers 

5 that you want and put them in the places where you 

6 think they belong.

The witness gave the grand jury a map, to guide its deliberations but we will never know what map that was, because the stickers can be moved.

Pretty neat trick, giving the grand jury guidance that can never be disclosed to others.

Summary:

You have seen the quote from the latest data dump from the prosecutor’s office:

McCulloch apologized in a written statement for any confusion that may have occurred by failing to initially release all of the interview transcripts. He said he believes he has now released all of the grand jury evidence, except for photos of Brown’s body and anything that could lead to witnesses being identified.

The written instructions to the grand jury and the now unknowable map (Grand Jury 101) aren’t pictures of Brown’s body or anything that could identify a witness. Where are they?


Please make a donation to support further research on the grand jury proceedings concerning Michael Brown. Future work will include:

  • A witness index to the grand jury transcripts
  • An exhibit index to the grand jury transcripts
  • Analysis of the grand jury transcript for patterns by the prosecuting attorneys, both expected and unexpected
  • A concordance of the grand jury transcripts
  • Suggestions?

Donations will enable continued analysis of the grand jury transcripts, which, along with other evidence, may establish a pattern of conduct that was not happenstance or coincidence, but in fact was, enemy action.

Thanks for your support!


Other Michael Brown Posts

Missing From Michael Brown Grand Jury Transcripts December 7, 2014. (The witness index I propose to replace.)

New recordings, documents released in Michael Brown case [LA Times Asks If There’s More?] Yes! December 9, 2014 (before the latest document dump on December 14, 2014).

Michael Brown Grand Jury – Presenting Evidence Before Knowing the Law December 10, 2014.

How to Indict Darren Wilson (Michael Brown Shooting) December 12, 2014.

More Missing Evidence In Ferguson (Michael Brown) December 15, 2014. (above)

How to Indict Darren Wilson (Michael Brown Shooting)

Friday, December 12th, 2014

The Missouri Attorney General’s office needs to remove St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch from the Michael Brown case. Then convene a grand jury led to represent the public’s interest and not that of Darren Wilson.

As we saw in Michael Brown Grand Jury – Presenting Evidence Before Knowing the Law, an indictment of Darren Wilson for second degree murder in the death of Michael Brown only requires probable cause (“a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime”) to find that:

  1. Darren Wilson (a person)
  2. intentionally shot (knowingly causes)
  3. to kill Michael Brown (another person) or
  4. to inflict serious injury on Michael Brown (another person)
  5. and Michael Brown dies (death)

It need not be a long and drawn out grand jury like the first one.

Just in case the Missouri Attorney General takes my advice (yeah, right), here is a thumbnail sketch to avoid a repetition of the prior defective grand jury process.

First witness, the chief investigating officer. Establish a scale map of the area and the locations of Darren Wilson’s vehicle, Darren Wilson’s claimed position and the final location of Michael Brown.

A map something like:

Michael Brown map

(See this map in full at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/ferguson-witness-map/, it was authored by Richard Johnson.)

Elicit the following facts from the chief investigating officer:

  1. Michael Brown was in fact unarmed.
  2. Officer Darren Wilson said that he shot Michael Brown. (hearsay is admissible in grand jury proceedings)
  3. Officer Darren Wilson was also armed with police issued Mace at the time of the shooting.
  4. Officer Darren Wilson had pursued Michael Brown for over 100 feet from any initial contact.
  5. Michael Brown’s body had no traces of Mace on it.
  6. Officer Darren Wilson’s issued Mace was unused.
  7. Michael Brown was shot eight (8) times, three of them in the head.
  8. The medical examiner concluded that Michael Brown died as a result of gun shot wounds on 9 August 2014.

Unnecessary but to give the grand jury the human side of the story, call the witness from the second floor of the apartment building who testified to the grand jury:


Volume 8 – September 30, 2014 – Page 114

23 A Okay. Then my brother noticed, he said

24 wait a minute, looks like they’re struggling. We

25 are looking at the car, we can see them tussling,

Volume 8 – September 30, 2014 – Page 115

1 all right. His head was above the truck for a

2 moment and then it went below it.

3 Q Okay.

4 A All right. And it was still tussling.

5 His friend had backed up a step back on the

6 sidewalk, then we heard a shot. His friend ran this

7 direction, Michael ran to this driveway right here,

8 beside this building.

9 Q Just so we can be clear, this street is

10 Copper Creek Court?

11 A Right.

12 Q So you are saying, you had the pointer,

13 the little laser ——

14 A Right, right here.

15 Q —— at the corner of Canfield Drive and

16 Copper Creek Court?

17 A Right, he had ran towards this way. As

18 he’s running ——

19 Q He’s running east down Canfield?

20 A As he’s running this way, the officer got

21 out of his truck, came around from the back, got to

22 this side where he was now on the driver’s side

23 because he had a clear line of Michael over here.

24 Then he assumed his position with the

25 pistol. As he turned around, as he came around, he

Volume 8 – September 30, 2014 – Page 116

1 was coming up with the gun. He held the gun up like

2 this. (indicating) When he got to here, Michael was

3 standing right on the grass and he was like looking

4 down at his body.

5 Q Okay. Let me stop you here. At this

6 point have you seen anything in Michael’s hands?

7 A No.

8 Q When he was stopped, when they were

9 talking down the street, did you see anything in his

10 hands?

11 A No.

12 Q How about the other boy, anything in his

13 hands?

14 A No.

15 Q They weren’t carrying anything that you

16 saw?

17 A No.

18 Q And then you said, you know how important

19 some of this gesturing has been, right?

20 A Uh—huh, right.

21 Q So they are here to actually witness what

22 you are going to do. And so you say when Michael

23 Brown gets to, is he in the grass actually?

24 A He’s is standing at the very edge. Okay.

25 The driveways are blacktop, he is stopped right at

Volume 8 – September 30, 2014 – Page 117

1 the blacktop right, at the very edge.

2 Q Okay.

3 A His back was turned to the officer.

4 Q Okay.

5 A And he had his hands like this, like he’s

6 looking down at his body to see.

7 Q Okay. Can I ask you to stand up that will

8 really help them to see what you’re doing and he’s

9 stopped now?

10 A He’s stopped with his back towards the

11 officer and he stopped and he was doing this. As he

12 was trying to see where he was shot.

13 Q Okay.

14 A All right.

15 Q Uh—huh.

16 A As he was turning, at that time the

17 officer had already been around to the back of his

18 truck and got into his spot. By the time he got

19 there, while Michael was there, he was slowly

20 turning around and the officer said stop. When

21 Michael turned around, he just put his hands up like

22 this. They were shoulder high, they weren’t above

23 his head, but he did have them up. He had them out

24 like this, all right, palms facing him like this.

25 The officer said stop again. Michael

Volume 8 – September 30, 2014 – Page 118

1 then took a step, a few steps it took for him to get

2 from that blacktop to the street. When he stepped

3 out on the street, the officer said stop one more

4 time and then he fired. He fired three to four

5 shots. When he hit him, he went back. Can I stand?

6 Q Sure.

7 A When he hit him he, did like this, and he

8 went like, like his balance —— he started staggering

9 and he looked up at the officer like why.

10 Q Now, just to be clear, you can’t hear him

11 say anything?

12 A I can’t hear him say that, but he’s

13 looking at him and he is doing, you know. So then

14 as he’s stopped, he’s trying to steady, he starts

15 staggering, my brother says, he’s not going to stand

16 up, he’s getting ready to fall, he’s getting ready

17 to fall.

18 He looks like he was trying to stay

19 on his feet, and he started staggering toward the

20 police officer and he still had his hands up.

21 At some point between the officer’s

22 truck, which by that time this is about 30, 35 feet,

23 when he reached out into the street, he started

24 walking toward the officer, the officer took three

25 steps back and he yelled out stop to Michael again

Volume 8 – September 30, 2014 – Page 119

1 three times.

2 Michael’s steadily walking toward

3 him. More or less to me and to my brothers, he was

4 staggering.

5 Q Okay. To your brothers, did you have more

6 than one brother?

7 A Well, I mean my brother. I didn’t mean to

8 say brothers, my brother. He was staggering, you

9 know. And as he was staggering forward, his head,

10 his body kind of went down at an angle. He was like

11 this, more or less fighting to stay up. You could

12 see his legs wobbling.

13 Q Were his hands the way you had them?

14 A His hands were coming down like this, all

15 right. And he had his head up and he’s facing the

16 officer like this and he is steadily moving, and the

17 officer was moving back, stop. He yelled stop the

18 third time, he let off four more shops, but as he

19 was firing, Michael was falling. After he stopped

20 firing, Michael, he went down face first, smack.


What do you think? Probable cause for:

  1. Darren Wilson (a person)
  2. intentionally shot – 8 times (knowingly causes)
  3. to kill Michael Brown (another person) or
  4. to inflict serious injury on Michael Brown (another person)
  5. and Michael Brown dies (death)

Unless you think a police officer yelling “stop” is a license to kill, there is more than enough evidence for probable cause to indict for second degree murder. Total grand jury time, perhaps a day or a day and a half.

Should the grand jury ask about self-defense, lawful arrest, etc. the proper response is that all of those are great questions but under Missouri law, the responsibility to answer those questions resides with the trier of fact, whether it is a judge or jury. In a trial, both sides are represented with a judge to insure that all sides have an opportunity to present their side. In a grand jury proceeding, only the State is represented so it would be unfair for the State to attempt to represent both sides.

Don’t be fooled into “accepting” the grand jury’s decision. Another grand jury can and should be chosen to properly consider the Michael Brown shooting. Even more importantly, all those connected to the first grand jury should be investigated to determine who decided to throw the first grand jury. I can’t believe that an assistant prosecutor made that decision all on their own.

Michael Brown Grand Jury – Presenting Evidence Before Knowing the Law

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

News coverage of the Michael Brown grand jury has proceeded like the prosecution in the case. It has been “look at this,” “now look at that,” with no rhyme or reason to the presentation. Big mistakes were made but in context, a pattern emerges that does not appear to be the result of chance or incompetence.

That pattern includes things that missing that are expected in any grand jury proceeding.

For example, did you know the grand jurors were never told what laws might apply to this case until the very end? And even there we don’t know what was said to the jurors.

4 GRAND JUROR: So you are going to give us 

5 those guidelines for us? 

6 	    MS. WHIRLEY: Right . 

7 	    MS. ALIZADEH: We're not going to give you 

8 the facts and say if he did this and then this, if 

9 you believe this, then this. But we're going to 

10 give you what the law says when a law officer can 

11 use force to affect an arrest and when that force 

12 can be deadly. And then also when a person can use 

13 force to defend themselves and when that force can 

14 be deadly. 

15 There is all kind of things about whether 

16 or not the person is an initial aggressor, you know. 

17 And under the law, a law enforcement officer can be 

18 an initial aggressor, unless his arrest is unlawful. 

This exchange happens in Volume 24, page 108, lines 4-18. Problem is, we don’t know what “laws” were actually given to the grand jury or in what form. More missing “evidence.”

Notice that the prosecutors deviated from the normal pattern of grand jury proceedings.

When the Grand Jury meets, the district attorney or an assistant district attorney designated by the district attorney will either read or explain the proposed Indictment (sometimes referred to as a Bill of Indictment) to the Grand Jury and will acquaint them with the witnesses who will testify. This is done to allow the Grand Jurors to familiarize themselves with the parties involved in case one or more members are disqualified to serve (see p. 21 and 22). (Grand Jury Handbook, page 25) (To the same effect but in federal grand juries, Antitrust Division Grand Jury Practice Manual page IV-2)

Outlining the law to a grand jury sets a context in which they place evidence and separate the important from the trivial or even irrelevant. You can scour all twenty-four volumes but in particular volume one and you will find no such assistance for the grand jury in this case.

I will outline the laws that should have been given to the grand jury at the outset of this investigation and then the consequences of not having those laws all along will be more evident.

Please shout if I fail to give specific references and/or hyperlinks to resources that I cite. I am less interested in your hearing my summary than I am in providing you with the ability to see the primary materials for yourself. (Another characteristic of a well authored topic map.)

There are two possible charges that could have been given to the grand jury, well, a properly assisted grand jury in this case, first and second degree murder. Let’s look at the laws in both cases.

First Degree Murder

First degree murder, penalty–person under sixteen years of age not to receive death penalty.

565.020. 1. A person commits the crime of murder in the first degree if he knowingly causes the death of another person after deliberation upon the matter.

The elements of first degree murder are:

  • person commits
  • knowingly causes
  • death of another person
  • after deliberation on the matter

You may have heard the term “premeditated” murder before. Essentially someone who plans to murder another person and then carries it out. There’s no specific time limit required for deliberation.

As a tactical matter, a prosecutor would not give the grand jury a first degree murder indictment in this case because there is no evidence of deliberation. The only reason for giving it in this case is to get the grand jury accustomed to the idea of not returning a true bill on any charge.

For the Michael Brown grand jury, absent some evidence that Darren Wilson knew and had some plan to murder Michael Brown, I would leave this one out.

Second Degree Murder

Until December 31, 2016–Second degree murder, penalty.

565.021. 1. A person commits the crime of murder in the second degree if he:

(1) Knowingly causes the death of another person or, with the purpose of causing serious physical injury to another person, causes the death of another person; or

(omitted language on murder in the course of commission of a felony as irrelevant)

The elements of second degree murder are:

  • person commits
  • knowingly causes
  • death of another person
  • or with purpose of serious injury
  • causes the death of another person

This illustrates the reason for instructing the grand jury on the law before they start hearing evidence. It enables them to sort out useful from non-useful testimony and evidence.

For example, do you see anything in the elements of second degree murder that allows killing of another person if the other person has been smoking marijuana? Or does it permit killing of another person for jaywalking? Or if a jaywalker runs away? What if you “tussle” with a police officer? Fair game? No, it doesn’t say any of those things.

Think about reading the grand jury transcripts and marking out witnesses and evidence that isn’t relevant to the elements:

  • person commits
  • knowingly causes
  • death of another person
  • or with purpose of serious injury
  • causes the death of another person

Not today but I will be annotating that list with points in the transcript that provide “probably cause” for each of those points.

You will have noticed from the quoted portion of the transcript that defense counsel ALIZADEH gives the jury instructions on use of force in self-defense and by a police officer.

That’s not a typo, I really mean defense counsel ALIZADEH. Why? I have appended the full statute provisions at the end of this post but in part:

Self-defense

Use of force in defense of persons provides in part:

5. The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of justification under this section.

Who raised it? Defense counsel ALIZADEH.

Force by a police officer

Until December 31, 2016–Law enforcement officer’s use of force in making an arrest provides in part:

4. The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of justification under this section.

Who raised it? Defense counsel ALIZADEH.

Voluntary Manslaughter

I suspect the jury was also instructed on voluntary manslaughter, which was also inappropriate because like the other statutes, Until December 31, 2016–Voluntary manslaughter, penalty–under influence of sudden passion, defendant’s burden to inject provides that:

2. The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause under subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of this section.

“Sudden passion from adequate cause” under Missouri law is a defense to second degree murder. What that means is that if you are charged with second degree murder, the trial jury (not the grand jury) can find you guilty of voluntary manslaughter as a responsive verdict. See: Until December 31, 2016–Lesser degree offenses of first and second degree murder–instruction on lesser offenses, when. (And for your convenience, below.)

Again, must be raised by and probably was raised by Defense counsel ALIZADEH.

Summary:

The only facts that the grand jury had to find probable cause for in its hearings and deliberations were:

  • person commits (Darren Wilson)
  • knowingly causes (not accidental, on purpose)
  • death of another person (Michael Brown’s death)
  • or with purpose of serious injury (multiple wounds)
  • causes the death of another person (Michael Brown’s death)

That’s it in a nutshell.

The trial jury or judge alone reaches decisions on self-defense, force by a police officer, “sudden passion from adequate cause,” and other issues. Not a grand jury.

Knowing the law, review the transcripts to say whether there was probable cause or not.

PS: Sorry, almost forgot:

The best-known definition of probable cause is “a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime”

From Probable Cause at Princeton University.

If you think shooting an unarmed person eight times leads to a reasonable belief a crime has been committed, then you would return a true bill for second degree murder.

Supplemental Missouri statutes

Use of force in defense of persons (563.031), Law enforcement officer’s use of force in making an arrest (563.046), Voluntary manslaughter (565.023), and Lesser degree offenses of first and second degree murder (565.025), below.

Use of force in defense of persons.

563.031. 1. A person may, subject to the provisions of subsection 2 of this section, use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such force to be necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful force by such other person, unless:

(1) The actor was the initial aggressor; except that in such case his or her use of force is nevertheless justifiable provided:

(a) He or she has withdrawn from the encounter and effectively communicated such withdrawal to such other person but the latter persists in continuing the incident by the use or threatened use of unlawful force; or

(b) He or she is a law enforcement officer and as such is an aggressor pursuant to section 563.046; or

(c) The aggressor is justified under some other provision of this chapter or other provision of law;

(2) Under the circumstances as the actor reasonably believes them to be, the person whom he or she seeks to protect would not be justified in using such protective force;

(3) The actor was attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of a forcible felony.

2. A person may not use deadly force upon another person under the circumstances specified in subsection 1 of this section unless:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such deadly force is necessary to protect himself, or herself or her unborn child, or another against death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony;

(2) Such force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle lawfully occupied by such person; or

(3) Such force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter private property that is owned or leased by an individual claiming a justification of using protective force under this section.

3. A person does not have a duty to retreat from a dwelling, residence, or vehicle where the person is not unlawfully entering or unlawfully remaining. A person does not have a duty to retreat from private property that is owned or leased by such individual.

4. The justification afforded by this section extends to the use of physical restraint as protective force provided that the actor takes all reasonable measures to terminate the restraint as soon as it is reasonable to do so.

5. The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of justification under this section. If a defendant asserts that his or her use of force is described under subdivision (2) of subsection 2 of this section, the burden shall then be on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not reasonably believe that the use of such force was necessary to defend against what he or she reasonably believed was the use or imminent use of unlawful force.

Until December 31, 2016–Law enforcement officer’s use of force in making an arrest.

563.046. 1. A law enforcement officer need not retreat or desist from efforts to effect the arrest, or from efforts to prevent the escape from custody, of a person he reasonably believes to have committed an offense because of resistance or threatened resistance of the arrestee. In addition to the use of physical force authorized under other sections of this chapter, he is, subject to the provisions of subsections 2 and 3, justified in the use of such physical force as he reasonably believes is immediately necessary to effect the arrest or to prevent the escape from custody.

2. The use of any physical force in making an arrest is not justified under this section unless the arrest is lawful or the law enforcement officer reasonably believes the arrest is lawful.

3. A law enforcement officer in effecting an arrest or in preventing an escape from custody is justified in using deadly force only

(1) When such is authorized under other sections of this chapter; or

(2) When he reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest and also reasonably believes that the person to be arrested

(a) Has committed or attempted to commit a felony; or

(b) Is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon; or

(c) May otherwise endanger life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay.

4. The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of justification under this section.

Until December 31, 2016–Voluntary manslaughter, penalty–under influence of sudden passion, defendant’s burden to inject.

565.023. 1. A person commits the crime of voluntary manslaughter if he:

(1) Causes the death of another person under circumstances that would constitute murder in the second degree under subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of section 565.021, except that he caused the death under the influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause; or

(2) Knowingly assists another in the commission of self-murder.

2. The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause under subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of this section.

Until December 31, 2016–Lesser degree offenses of first and second degree murder–instruction on lesser offenses, when.

565.025. 1. With the exceptions provided in subsection 3 of this section
and subsection 3 of section 565.021, section 556.046 shall be used for the
purpose of consideration of lesser offenses by the trier in all homicide cases.

2. The following lists shall comprise, in the order listed, the lesser
degree offenses:

(1) The lesser degree offenses of murder in the first degree are:

(a) Murder in the second degree under subdivisions (1) and (2) of
subsection 1 of section 565.021;

(b) Voluntary manslaughter under subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of
section 565.023; and

(c) Involuntary manslaughter under subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of
section 565.024;

(2) The lesser degree offenses of murder in the second degree are:

(a) Voluntary manslaughter under subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of
section 565.023; and

(b) Involuntary manslaughter under subdivision (1) of subsection 1 of
section 565.024.

3. No instruction on a lesser included offense shall be submitted unless
requested by one of the parties or the court.

New recordings, documents released in Michael Brown case [LA Times Asks If There’s More?] Yes!

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Ferguson, Mo.: New recordings, documents released in Michael Brown case

By James Queally and Maria L. La Ganga write for the Los Angeles Times:


It remains unclear whether all of the documents and transcripts connected to the grand jury investigation have been made public. Emails and phone calls to the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office late Monday were not immediately returned. Grand jury proceedings are usually secret, but McCulloch had pledged to release the evidence if Wilson was not indicted. (emphasis added)

I can answer that question without asking the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office.

NO!

For example and only as an example:

Read Grand Jury Volume 24, at page 69, lines 21-25:

21 now you've completed your police report in this
22 case; is that right?
23 A I have.
24 Q How many pages is your police report?
25 A I don't know exactly, 1,100, 1,200

So, where are the 1,100 to 1,200 pages of report by the crime scene detective who testified three (3) times before the grand jury?

Not present in the documents released thus far.

There are other documents missing, some of them even more critical than this report but I will cover those in other posts.

Missing From Michael Brown Grand Jury Transcripts

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

What’s missing from the Michael Brown grand jury transcripts? Index pages. For 22 out of 24 volumes of grand jury transcripts, the index page is missing. Here’s the list:

  • volume 1 – page 4 missing
  • volume 2 – page 4 missing
  • volume 3 – page 4 missing
  • volume 4 – page 4 missing
  • volume 5 – page 4 missing
  • volume 6 – page 4 missing
  • volume 7 – page 4 missing
  • volume 8 – page 4 missing
  • volume 9 – page 4 missing
  • volume 10 – page 4 missing
  • volume 11 – page 4 missing
  • volume 12 – page 4 missing
  • volume 13 – page 4 missing
  • volume 14 – page 4 missing
  • volume 15 – page 4 missing
  • volume 16 – page 4 missing
  • volume 17 – page 4 missing
  • volume 18 – page 4 missing
  • volume 19 – page 4 missing
  • volume 20 – page 4 missing
  • volume 21 – page 4 present
  • volume 22 – page 4 missing
  • volume 23 – page 4 missing
  • volume 24 – page 4 present

As you can see from the indexes in volumes 21 and 24, they not terribly useful but better than combing twenty-four volumes (4799 pages of text) to find where a witness testifies.

Someone (court reporter?) made a conscious decision to take action that makes the transcripts harder to user.

Perhaps this is, as they say, “chance.”

Stay tuned for posts later this week that upgrade that to “coincidence” and beyond.

Documents Released in the Ferguson Case

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Documents Released in the Ferguson Case (New York Times)

The New York Times has posted the following documents from the Ferguson case:

  • 24 Volumes of Grand Jury Testimony
  • 30 Interviews of Witnesses by Law Enforcement Officials
  • 23 Forensic and Other Reports
  • 254 Photographs

Assume you are interested in organizing these materials for rapid access and cross-linking between them.

What are your requirements?

  1. Accessing Grand Jury Testimony by volume and page number?
  2. Accessing Interviews of Witnesses by report and page number?
  3. Linking people to reports, testimony and statements?
  4. Linking comments to particular photographs?
  5. Linking comments to a timeline?
  6. Linking Forensic reports to witness statements and/or testimony?
  7. Linking physical evidence into witness statements and/or testimony?
  8. Others?

It’s a lot of material so which requirements, these or others, would be your first priority?

It’s not a death march project but on the other hand, you need to get the most valuable tasks done first.

Suggestions?