- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

A Missouri appeals court ruled Friday that a former American Civil Liberties Union attorney was improperly dismissed from a grand jury over concerns about his involvement in Ferguson litigation.

The ruling also said that the St. Louis grand jury should be immediately adjourned because its “secrecy and independence” had been compromised in part through court filings in the case. The ACLU sued on behalf of the grand juror, who used the pseudonym John Roe, after his Sept. 28 removal.

Roe had been serving as foreman for less than two week when it became known that he had been involved in a case challenging the way Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch handled grand jury proceedings in which a decision was made not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown Jr.

The grand juror, who worked as a staff attorney for the ACLU until March, had since gone to work for a federal agency. His ACLU employment did not come up when he was questioned before his grand jury selection, the appeals court wrote in its ruling.

Court records say Circuit Judge Steven Goldman removed Roe from the grand jury after finding that his participation in lawsuits against McCulloch may have affected his conduct in grand jury proceedings. Grand juries meet in secret so the subjects of the proceedings were not revealed.

But the appeals court found that the judge failed to establish that the juror’s “purported conflict of interest justified his removal.”

Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said in a written statement that the court “properly recognized that the Judge acted outside his authority in removing the Grand Juror.”

McCulloch has declined to discuss the case, saying he’s not a party in the litigation.

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