CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — Attorneys for the city of Ferguson and other defendants in a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Michael Brown’s parents can have access to juvenile records involving the black 18-year-old who was fatally shot by a white police officer in 2014, a judge ruled.
The judge said those who are granted access to the records can’t disclose the confidential information, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/28X7tfg ) reports. Also, the unredacted parts can’t be transmitted electronically.
The ruling Thursday from St. Louis County Circuit Judge Thea A. Sherry said permitted viewers include attorneys, clerks, paralegals, legal secretaries, investigators, people present at depositions and consulting experts. The information must be kept locked in lawyers’ offices.
The city’s lawyers argued that any such information “is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” in the lawsuit against the St. Louis suburb, former Police Chief Thomas Jackson and Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed the unarmed Brown during an August 2014 confrontation. A grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November 2014.
Anthony Gray, an attorney for Brown’s family, has said that even if Brown had a brush with the juvenile court system — including for such low-level offenses as truancy — those details are irrelevant to whether his death resulted from excessive force.
Police have said Brown had no adult criminal record. Juvenile records are confidential in Missouri, although being charged with certain violent crimes removes those privacy protections.
In September 2014, a month after Brown’s death, another St. Louis County family court judge denied without offering an explanation a request by the Post-Dispatch and California blog GotNews.com to release any Brown juvenile records. At a hearing, a juvenile court system lawyer said Brown did not face any juvenile charges at the time he died and never was convicted of a serious felony such as murder, robbery or burglary. It’s unclear whether Brown had ever faced lesser offenses as a juvenile.
The Justice Department ultimately concluded that evidence backed Wilson’s claim that he shot Brown in self-defense after Brown first tried to grab the officer’s gun during a struggle through the window of Wilson’s police vehicle, then came toward him threateningly after briefly running away.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com