More than half of Aussie men report experiencing sexual difficulties

Many men were concerned about climaxing too quickly or lacking interest in sex.Krista MangulsoneOne in two Australian men aged 18 to 55 have experienced sexual difficulty in the past 12 months, accord...

Jennifer Power, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University - avatar Jennifer Power, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University

Sanders, Harris, Biden... can anyone beat Donald Trump to become the next US president?

No sooner had the US midterm elections for Congress concluded than jockeying began for the presidential elections in 2020. Barring either impeachment, which seems unlikely, or a health crisis, Donald ...

Dennis Altman, Professorial Fellow in Human Security, La Trobe University - avatar Dennis Altman, Professorial Fellow in Human Security, La Trobe University

As many Muslims return to mosques today, they will need ongoing support

A worshipper lights candles at a makeshift memorial at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.AAP/Mick Tsikas, CC BY-SAToday, many Muslims in New Zealand will be returning for Friday prayers. Some might f...

Fatima Junaid, Lecturer, Massey University - avatar Fatima Junaid, Lecturer, Massey University

'It's real to them, so adults should listen': what children want you to know to help them feel safe

Children and young people told us they were often overwhelmed by the risks that surrounded them.from shutterstock.comIn recent months, we have been confronted by events that make the world seem unsafe...

Tim Moore, Associate Professor and  Deputy Director, Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia - avatar Tim Moore, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Australian Centre for Child Protection, University of South Australia

A brief history of science writing shows the rise of the female voice

Women played a role as both readers and authors in the history of science writing.Shutterstock/Africa StudioThree centuries ago, when modern science was in its infancy, the gender disparity in educati...

Robyn Arianrhod, Adjunct Associate , School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University - avatar Robyn Arianrhod, Adjunct Associate , School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University

Cannibalism helps fire ants invade new territory

Fire ant stings can be deadly to people who have an allergic reaction to their venom.Forest and Kim Starr/Flickr, CC BY-SATropical fire ants (Solenopsis geminata), originally from central and South Am...

Pauline Lenancker, PhD student in biology and ecology, James Cook University - avatar Pauline Lenancker, PhD student in biology and ecology, James Cook University

We've let wage exploitation become the default experience of migrant workers

Australia’s Fairwork Commission has so far this year examined more than a dozen cases of wage theft. Those cases involve hundred of workers and millions of dollars in underpayments.And it’...

Joo-Cheong Tham, Professor, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne - avatar Joo-Cheong Tham, Professor, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Jobs but not enough work. How power keeps workers anxious and wages low

The unemployment rate is 4.9%, but the underemployment rate is 8.1%ShutterstockThis is the third in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment presented by The Conversation...

Barbara Pocock, Emeritus Professor University of South Australia, University of South Australia - avatar Barbara Pocock, Emeritus Professor University of South Australia, University of South Australia

What Parkland's experience tells us about the limits of a 'security' response to Christchurch

In the days before the mass shootings in Christchurch I was visiting Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a school shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018. I was recording a story about ho...

Amanda Tattersall, Postdoc in urban geography and Research Lead at Sydney Policy Lab. Host of ChangeMakers Podcast., University of Sydney - avatar Amanda Tattersall, Postdoc in urban geography and Research Lead at Sydney Policy Lab. Host of ChangeMakers Podcast., University of Sydney

Friday essay: images of mourning and the power of acknowledging grief

These images of Cherine Fahd's grandfather's funeral were tucked away in a brown paper envelope for decades. As a society, we too often keep grief hidden from view. Author providedBefore her death in...

Cherine Fahd, Director Photography, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Cherine Fahd, Director Photography, School of Design, University of Technology Sydney

Local Māori urge government to address long-running dispute over rare cultural heritage landscape

Supporters of the campaign to stop commercial development at Ihumaatao.Qiane Matata-Sipu , CC BY-SAAn escalating crisis at Ihumaatao, near Auckland’s airport, is challenging the commercial devel...

Tim McCreanor, Professor Race Relations, Health and Wellbeing, Massey University - avatar Tim McCreanor, Professor Race Relations, Health and Wellbeing, Massey University

Grattan on Friday: Shorten's not getting ahead of himself, but the tape measure is out

With the election likely to be called in about a fortnight – the weekend after the April 2 budget - behind the scenes Labor is “measuring the curtains” of government.Any sign of hubr...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Will the New Zealand gun law changes prevent future mass shootings?

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a ban on certain military-style weapons.AAP/David AlexanderAs she foreshadowed in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre last Friday, New Ze...

Rick Sarre, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, University of South Australia - avatar Rick Sarre, Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, University of South Australia

NSW election: where do the parties stand on brumby culling?

Feral horses have severely damaged the landscape in Kosciuszko National Park.Travelstine, CC BY-SAThe future management of New South Wales’s national parks is one of the issues on the line in Sa...

Don Driscoll, Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, Deakin University - avatar Don Driscoll, Professor in Terrestrial Ecology, Deakin University

Confused about aged care in the home? These 10 charts explain how it works

Home care providers' profits are growing but many older Australians are missing out on quality care.The Conversation / ShutterstockThis week, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety hea...

Fron Jackson-Webb, Deputy Editor/Senior Health + Medicine Editor - avatar Fron Jackson-Webb, Deputy Editor/Senior Health + Medicine Editor

Jobs but not enough work. How power keeps workers anxious and wages low

The unemployment rate is 4.9%, but the underemployment rate is 8.1%ShutterstockThis is the third in a three-part mini-symposium on Wages, Unemployment and Underemployment presented by The Conversation...

The Conversation - avatar The Conversation

We've let wage exploitation become the default experience of migrant workers

Australia’s Fairwork Commission has so far this year examined more than a dozen cases of wage theft. Those cases involve hundred of workers and millions of dollars in underpayments.And it’...

The Conversation - avatar The Conversation

A new procedure may preserve fertility in kids with cancer after chemo or radiation

A 12-week-old baby female macaque, named Grady, was born from frozen testicular tissue. Oregon Health and Science University, CC BY-SACancer in children was often a death sentence in decades past, but...

Kyle Orwig, Professor of OB/GYN and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh - avatar Kyle Orwig, Professor of OB/GYN and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

March Madness: With gambling legal in eight states, who really wins?

The odds of more legal betting are good. AP Photo/John LocherMarch means springtime, but also breathless headlines of Cinderellas, busted brackets and buzzer beaters. This year, it’ll also inclu...

John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, Pennsylvania State University - avatar John Affleck, Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, Pennsylvania State University

Will more genetically engineered foods be approved under the FDA's new leadership?

Will food laws change as more GM foods are created?Zerbor/Shutterstock.comThe world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug...

Ana Santos Rutschman, Assistant Professor of Law, Saint Louis University - avatar Ana Santos Rutschman, Assistant Professor of Law, Saint Louis University

We need more teachers of color, so why do we use tests that keep them out of the classroom?

Teacher license exams often fail to predict which teachers will be the best, research shows.michaeljung from shutterstock.comStudents of color seldom see teachers who look like them. This is because m...

Emery Petchauer, Associate Professor, Michigan State University - avatar Emery Petchauer, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Niger has the world's highest birth rate – and that may be a recipe for unrest

While fertility levels have declined rapidly in most parts of the world, many countries in the sub-Saharan African region of the Sahel have seen their reproductive rates go down very slowly, and only ...

John F. May, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University - avatar John F. May, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University

Nuns were secluded to avoid scandals in early Christian monastic communities

Margareta, head of the women's community at Lippoldsberg (in modern-day Germany) clasps hands with an Augustinian monk as he hands her a book.Lippoldsberg Evangeliary. Kassel, Landesbibliothek, MS the...

Alison I. Beach, Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University - avatar Alison I. Beach, Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University

imageSt Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch asked grand jury to do investigation POOL New/ Reuters

Now that the grand jury has decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year old man, there remain many questions about this grand jury and generally about the use of grand juries in the United States.

The legal basis: federal and state

The fact that twelve randomly picked impartial citizens played such a key role in the matter is a unique feature of the criminal justice system in the US.

The US Constitution and all state constitutions provide for grand juries. In federal criminal cases, federal grand juries consisting of sixteen to twenty-three members make all decisions to indict, and at least twelve grand jurors are necessary in an indictment, commonly called a “true bill.”

Provisions in state constitutions vary in terms of the size of grand juries. The Missouri Constitution calls for a twelve member grand jury, nine of which must concur in an indictment.

The make up of the Ferguson grand jury

Grand jurors in St Louis County are chosen from the same jury pool as trial jurors. A judge selects the grand jurors, and the judge tries to ensure that jurors are representative of the community.

The grand jurors who heard the case involving Michael Brown’s death were chosen in May, long before his death in August.

The judge chose nine white jurors and three African American jurors. Seven jurors were men and five jurors were women. They were from all parts of St Louis County, and the percentage of African Americans (25%) on the grand jury roughly equals the percentage of African Americans (24%) in St Louis County. The grand jury’s term was originally four months long – the normal term – but a judge extended the term in order for the grand jury to consider possible charges against Darren Wilson.

The work of the grand jury

In all felony cases, there must be a “probable cause determination” that a crime has been committed. Probable cause means that there must be some evidence of each element of the offense. Most serious criminal cases usually begin with the prosecutor charging a person with one or more felonies. After the person is charged, the prosecutor has the option of bringing the case to the grand jury for the probable cause determination or to go before a judge for a probable cause determination through a preliminary hearing.

At a preliminary hearing, the accused is present along with his or her lawyer who can cross-examine witnesses. In the grand jury, however, only the prosecutor is present along with the grand jurors: both the prosecutor and the grand jurors can question each witness.

The grand jury process excludes the suspect and the defense attorney because it is not supposed to be a mini-trial but rather solely determine if there is some evidence to support felony charges. Like a preliminary hearing, it is a check on whether there is probable cause to support felony charges but is a secret proceeding that is usually much quicker than a preliminary hearing.

In St Louis County, prosecutors usually bring serious felony cases or cases with numerous witnesses to the grand jury rather than a preliminary hearing because a police officer who has investigated a case can summarize his or her findings and witness statements to present the case more quickly than at a preliminary hearing where witnesses would be examined and cross-examined.

What happened in the Darren Wilson case

In this case, the prosecutor did not bring charges against Darren Wilson. Instead, the prosecutor used the grand jury in an investigative role to determine whether to indict Darren Wilson. Under existing law, the prosecutor has discretion to proceed in this way. Unlike a regular grand jury hearing where a prosecutor presents just enough evidence to support probable cause, the grand jury heard all of the evidence that the prosecutor had on the case as it considered.

Using a grand jury in this way is unusual. Prosecutors go this route in cases involving possible excessive force by police or possible charges of corruption against elected officials. For example, a grand jury in New York City has been investigating the chokehold death of Eric Garner by a police officer since September. In August, a grand jury in Texas indicted Texas Governor Rick Perry on two felony counts for abusing his official power and coercing a public servant in an effort to force a district attorney to step down after she was arrested on drunk-driving charges.

In St Louis, Darren Wilson was permitted to testify, and he injected the defenses of a justified use of force and self-defense. The testimony by Darren Wilson is very unusual, because normally the suspect or, if charges have been filed, the accused, does not have an opportunity to testify before a grand jury. Indeed, in United States v. Williams(1992), the US Supreme Court observed that the accused neither has a right to testify nor to have the prosecution present exculpatory evidence (favorable to the defendent) to the grand jury.

Like any other witness testifying before a grand jury, Darren Wilson was not permitted to have an attorney present. The transcript of his testimony indicates that he was permitted to tell his version of what occurred. There were few hard questions put to him by either the prosecutors or any of the grand jurors.

Before the grand jury began their deliberations, the prosecutors instructed the grand jury that to return an indictment against Darren Wilson they had to find probable cause that he committed an offense. They were also told that to indict they would have to find no probable cause that either he acted in self-defense or that his use of force was justified under the law. These instructions likely led the grand jury, who heard conflicting testimony about what occurred, to decide not to indict Darren Wilson.

image

Peter A. Joy does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Read more http://theconversation.com/explainer-the-grand-jury-in-the-darren-wilson-case-and-beyond-34857