The decisions of two grand juries not to indict police officers accused of killing two men this summer have incited protests across the country as many question the actions of those officers and why they were not charged in the deaths.
Raleigh defense attorney Damon Chetson said North Carolina grand juries are “a joke” in terms of the protection it gives citizens. Unlike in a courtroom, defendants in N.C. have no right to appear before a grand jury. Chetson said only law enforcement officers testify before it.
“It’s frustrating because the grand jury process in North Carolina is so meaningless,” Chetson said. “They’re not hearing any exculpatory evidence or information that would explain why the offense occurred.”
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Chetson said the best shot at winning a case is in a courtroom because the grand jury system is very one sided in North Carolina.
“Grand juries are essentially a joke in terms of the procedural protections they afford folks,” Chetson said. “What we have in North Carolina is a grand jury is a system which is a rubber stamp for prosecutors.”
In the case of the Michael Brown grand jury, the rules in Missouri are different. Transcripts are made and prosecutors present evidence.
“I wasn’t surprised we got the decision we got because there a lot of signs early on in the process that the grand jury was not going to indict,” Chetson said, adding that he believes the police officer, Darren Wilson, received special treatment.