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Function of Juries | 10 Apr 2014

-Occupy St. Louis Protester Acquitted

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Jury BoxOccupy St. Louis protester acquitted of assault after alleging police brutality

An Occupy St. Louis protester, Scott O’Rourke, was acquitted Wednesday of assaulting a police officer after raising claims that it was in fact the officer who had beat him.

It is the third acquittal of an Occupy protester on assault charges. Two prior defendants — Ryan Macias, 25, and Ryan Seal, 27 — also alleged police brutality in their December 2012 trial, pointing to booking photos and hospital reports that showed their injuries.

In a system so tilted toward prosecution, with law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges (often ex-prosecutors themselves) all financially motivated to keep the legal system packed, one might take a moment to consider how would defendants such as O’Rourke fare if left to the mercy of a legal system without juries? This passage from the article suggests that they would not fare well:

Welch pointed out in trial that O’Rourke was accused of delivering punches with just his right hand, even though he is left handed. The attorney also put his client on the witness stand and said he believed the jury’s confidence in his credibility was a key to winning the case.

Welch showed the jurors hospital records and a booking photo of the broken nose that O’Rourke sustained — he says from an officer’s punching him. The officer never denied delivering the blow but insisted it had been justified. Welch had to fight in court to get the booking photo of his client from prosecutors.

In court motions, Welch said that what prosecutors finally produced was a drivers license photo, and that it was only on the eve of the trial (when the case was first set back in February) that they turned over the actual booking photo showing the injuries. Welch unsuccessfully fought to have a judge dismiss the case as a result.

This is one reason why we have juries: to stand as a bulwark against abusive law enforcement and malicious prosecution by corrupt government officials.

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