20 January 2016

The Tamir Rice Investigatation Gets Even Less Credible

It turns out that the grand jury investigating the two officers who shot 12 year old Tamir Rice to death never even took a vote on whether to indict:
The grand jury that opted not to indict Cleveland police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback in the shooting death of Tamir Rice never actually took a vote on the matter, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.

What actually happened in the most significant grand jury hearing in county history isn't quite clear, and the mechanism by which the grand jury "declined to indict" — in Prosecutor Timothy McGinty's own words — is equally unclear.

At the conclusion of a typical grand jury hearing, there are two possible outcomes achieved via vote: a "true bill," which results in criminal charges and a case number in the court system, or a "no bill," which is a decision not to bring charges. A "no-bill notification" is signed and stamped and kept on record at the county clerk's office.

Though Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty never explicitly said the grand jury voted not to indict — nor did he utter the phrase "no bill" — in his Dec. 28 press conference, he declared that that grand jury had declined to indict.

How, then, if not by voting?

After learning and confirming on Jan. 15 that there was no "no-bill notification" on file at the county clerk's office for the Tamir Rice grand jury proceedings, Scene formally requested the document officially showing the decision, however it was reached, and wherever said document might be. We were told that it didn't exist. Employees at both the clerk's and prosecutor's officers were unable to explain the lack of paperwork.

Tuesday, Scene spoke with Joe Frolik, the communications director for the Prosecutor's Office, who said no no-bill record exists because, "it's technically not a no-bill, because they didn't vote on charges."
He elaborated: “This was an investigative grand jury. This was kind of their role. Sometimes, a grand jury, after its investigation, will decide if there are no votes to be taken on charges.”

But how that decision was reached and the location of any record of that decision remain publicly unaccounted for. The term “investigative grand jury” appears nowhere in McGinty’s public statements and reports on the proceedings.


As for a case that went before a grand jury but didn't result in a vote, [Law Professor Jonathan] Witmer-Rich said, "I'm not aware of an example...It could happen, I suppose, but I've never heard anyone talk about that."
Professor Lewis Katz, a criminal law expert at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, noted that investigative grand juries are ordinarily held in secret. In his view, the Tamir Rice grand jury was not investigative.


Reached Tuesday, Subodh Chandra, the local attorney for the Rice family, said that the whole process has been "irregular.” He said he and his team had asked the county if the grand jury members were led through each possible charge for a vote or whether there was one overarching vote on all charges, but never received an answer. When informed no vote of any kind took place, Chandra said: "If it is true that the prosecutor didn't even call for an up or down vote on potential criminal charges, including aggravated murder, then it is truly the ultimate insult to the Rice family,” Chandra said, “that the prosecutor didn't even think it mattered to bring the grand jury proceedings to their proper conclusion."
Our system allows a lot of leeway for prosecutors to make decisions, so I don't think that there is any call here for a criminal investigation, but the good people of Cleveland need to put a permanent end to this guy's political career.


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