Legal Scholar Horace Cooper Slams Missouri Governor's Rush to Justice in Michael Brown Shooting Death
"A Rush to Judgment... Demeans the Justice System and the Rule of Law"
Washington, D.C. / Ferguson, MO - Legal scholar Horace Cooper of the Project 21 black leadership network is condemning a statement by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon that appears to prejudge the investigation into the death of Michael Brown.
Cooper, who is co-chairman of Project 21 and a former professor of constitutional law at George Mason University, said this about Governor Nixon's apparent rush to judgment:
A hallmark of the American justice system is that we protect the rights of all Americans, especially the accused. In this case, officer Darren Wilson deserves not only a presumption of innocence, but the right to expect a neutral and dispassionate investigation into the shooting incident in Ferguson.
A rush to judgment by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon or any other high-ranking officials demeans the justice system and the rule of law.
People of color should be especially sensitive to mob justice and the idea that the crowd can demand and obtain a prosecution regardless of the underlying merits of the case. Appeasing noxious crowds by allowing pre-ordained prosecutions is a relic of a bygone era that Americans have hoped was in the past.
Shame on Governor Nixon.
In a taped message, Governor Nixon presented a two-step goal to help quell the unrest in Ferguson, which has experienced protests and nightly rioting since Brown's death on August 9. Nixon's first goal is "ensur[ing] that those with peace in their hearts are not drowned out by those with senseless violence in their hands." The second part of his plan, should he actually mean it, is ominous. Governor Nixon also said "a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued."
A grand jury's job is not to assess guilt or innocence, but only to determine if enough evidence exists to bring charges against a potential defendant. At that time, a prosecution can be mounted. A grand jury may not make a decision for months.
Project 21 members have completed over 40 radio and television interviews on the death of Michael Brown and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri in addition to being interviewed or cited by the media over 1,000 other times in 2014, including TVOne, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fox News Channel, Westwood One, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SiriusXM satellite radio and 50,000-watt talk radio stations such as WBZ-Boston and KDKA-Pittsburgh, on other issues that include civil rights, entitlement programs, the economy, race preferences, education and corporate social responsibility. Project 21 has participated in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding race preferences and voting rights, defended voter ID laws at the United Nations and provided regular commentary during the Trayvon Martin judicial proceedings. Its volunteer members come from all walks of life and are not salaried political professionals.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).
Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated .