Local lawyers confused by release of evidence, grand jury proceedings

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A day after the announcement of no indictment against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, there's still a focus on evidence that was presented to the grand jury, evidence that was released by the St. Louis County prosecutor. It's a move that has two local attorneys shaking their heads.

“It's all supposed to be done in secret, we have a specific statute that requires it to remain secret, and I was dumbfounded. It's extraordinary,” said attorney John Picerno.

“What he did was breathe life into something that was already a monster,” said former Jackson County Prosecutor Kathy Finnell.

“He” is St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. Kansas City attorneys Finnell and Picerno have four decades of experience between them; they have never seen grand jury evidence released.

Picerno takes exception with two things. One being that defense evidence and witnesses were presented, which he says never happens.

“Number two, they called in the defendant and let the defendant testify, which ordinarily never happens. (It) let’s him give his side,” Picerno said.

Finnell is also shaking her head at the decision to release some grand jury information. Several things stuck out for her as well. First and foremost, calling Officer Wilson to testify.

“If I was trying to get an indictment, I would never call a defendant to testify,” she said.

As for the release of grand jury testimony and evidence, Finnell says no details are better than some.

"I think it would have helped people express their sentiment and be done. With all the release of information you're going to have not just Monday morning quarterbacks, you're going to have next year,” she said.

Finnell finds no justification for breaking the state statute, even if the reason is full disclosure.

“You just can't have transparency after the fact, either you are or you're not,” she said.