Ferguson grand jury heard uncredible testimony
Most Alabama residents have heard about the case of Michael Brown’s shooting and may even be saddened or angry regarding the grand jury’s decision to not indict the officer involved in the situation. However, the case brought attention to witness credibility, as the grand jury heard many witnesses who later admitted to lying or who changed their stories during questioning.
While grand juries often hear unreliable witness testimony, the Ferguson case was particularly unusual because the prosecution chose to interview more witnesses than normal. Additionally, prosecutors already doubted some witness’ credibility. Usually, prosecutors screen their witnesses prior to calling them before the grand jury in an effort to only introduce evidence that is both credible and believable. It was argued by some that this move was orchestrated by the prosecution in order to have the case dismissed against the officer, while others argued that this allowed the grand jury to scrutinize any and all potential evidence.
A news station analyzed the testimony in order to determine why some of the witnesses testified, even if the information was not accurate. One witness, for example, never actually saw the incident but wanted to be a part of the movement being born out of the shooting. While it is unclear why the prosecution conducted the process in this way, a legal analyst argued that the dismissal of the charges was defensible and it was likely that the officer would have been acquitted.
In some cases, there is often very little evidence against a person accused of a crime other than witness testimony. However, not all witnesses are credible, especially if they are carrying out a grudge against the accused person or are simply mistaken. A criminal defense attorney may have ways to discredit their testimony by analyzing their statements and demonstrating why they are inaccurate, physically impossible or not believable.
Source: CNN , “One challenge for Ferguson grand jury: Some witnesses’ credibility“, Josh Levs, December 14, 2014