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As Ferguson awaits grand jury decision, an analysis on the likelihood of a successful prosecution

Police officers escort a protester carrying a sign that reads,
Police officers escort a protester carrying a sign that reads," Vigorous prosecution Jay Nixon?? Justice is for everybody even P.O. Wilson", as she makes her way through agitated protesters that were angry that she was there as they are looking for justice for the Michael Brown family including the arrest of Darren Wilson the officer who shot him on August 20, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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The residents of Ferguson are fearing that the violence and looting that had plagued the small St. Louis suburb in August will again erupt as they await the grand jury decision on whether to charge the white police officer that killed black teenager Michael Brown. That decision is expected soon.

The grand jury have been hearing evidence in the case for months and behind closed doors—the latter point a source of contention for critics of the process. Benjamin Crump, the lawyer representing the Brown family, said this week that the grand jury heard evidence from the private forensics expert hired to perform an autopsy on Brown by the family.

How does a grand jury work? What other evidence was likely presented to the grand jury? What factors do a grand jury have to weigh before deciding to go with an indictment? Even if the grand jury decided to file charges against the officer in the Brown case, how likely would it lead to a successful prosecution?


Steve Giegerich, reporter at the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, who’s been reporting on the case

Laurie Levenson, Professor of Law, Loyola Law School

Eugene O’Donnell, Professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice; former NYPD officer; former prosecutor in Kings County (Brooklyn)