Missouri Governor Calls For “Vigorous Prosecution” Before The Completion Of The Investigation Into Ferguson Shooting

220px-Jay_Nixon_cropWhile like many I was shocked by the story of the shooting of an unarmed man, Michael Brown, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, I have refrained from making public comments due to the conflicting accounts that have arisen in the case. As a criminal defense attorney, I have long resisted the tendency to rush to judgment, particularly in the midst of public unrest, in such cases. I saw that as a problem in the Trayvon Martin case. Those same concerns were raised this morning with the statement of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon who publicly stated that “a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued.” Presumably, he is speaking of the arrest and prosecution of Officer Darren Wilson. However, the investigations into the case are continuing and, in my view, Nixon’s comments are wildly inappropriate at this stage.

Nixon previously referred to Brown as the “victim” and denounced the release of this video of Brown strong-arming a store owner in stealing some cigars shortly before the shooting:

The video was released by police who were accused of trying to portray Brown as a violent thug — a similar concern that was raised in the aftermath of the Martin shooting. Police insisted that it is part of the record of the case since this was the crime that preceded the confrontation with Wilson. Of course, even if Brown stole the merchandise and threatened the store owner, it still does not justify the use of lethal force on an unarmed individual. Moreover, I am appalled that Brown’s body was left on the street for hours.

However, the facts in this case remain in considerable conflict. Rivaling accounts support both Brown and Wilson. The early objective evidence is also in conflict. While Brown’s friend said that Brown was shot in the back, the autopsies do not appear to support that (though the family insists that one of the arm wounds could have come from behind). Moreover, a recording and some witness accounts after the shooting seemed to support the claim of Wilson. Others support Brown. In other words, the facts are in dispute. Under some circumstances, the shooting of an unarmed individual can be found to be justified under standards governing officers.

There is also the recent report that Wilson suffered facial injuries or an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket” from the encounter. Such an injury, if true, could boost a defense.

The case could be submitted to a grand jury as early as today. We should learn more from the tests and forensics in the days to come. However, as a criminal defense attorney, I am deeply concerned about the Governor’s statements. Any prosecution would already be hindered by venue and bias issues. It is the duty of a governor to reinforce the rule of law and avoid pre-judging cases before any investigation is completed. Others certainly have the right to be heard on their views of the facts, even as they continue to emerge. However, Nixon is the chief executive of this state and does a disservice to legal process in prejudging the facts in my view. Such comments from either a President (who in the case of Obama has been much more restrained and circumspect) or a governor can seriously undermine the foundation for a fair trial and create the appearance of political pressure on prosecutors, judges, and others.

Nixon stated that “We have a responsibility to come together, and do everything we can to achieve justice for [Brown’s] family . . . to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly.” The “correct” way of achieving justice is not to presume guilt as the facts are still being investigated in my view.

294 thoughts on “Missouri Governor Calls For “Vigorous Prosecution” Before The Completion Of The Investigation Into Ferguson Shooting”

  1. I’m all distracted by this fascinating emulsification talk! What was the original argument over anyway?

  2. Fiver, you lied. An emulsion is perishable and terminal.

    Instability – From your source, Wikipedia

    “Emulsion stability refers to the ability of an emulsion to resist change in its properties over time…”

    There are four types of instability in emulsions: flocculation, creaming, coalescence, and Ostwald ripening. Flocculation occurs when there is an attractive force between the droplets, so they form flocs, like bunches of grapes. Coalescence occurs when droplets bump into each other and combine to form a larger droplet, so the average droplet size increases over time. Emulsions can also undergo creaming,…

    “where the droplets rise to the top of the emulsion under the influence of buoyancy, or under the influence of the centripetal force induced when a centrifuge is used.”


    You cannot and will never be able to mix OIL and WATER.

    I rest my case.

    1. Simms – get me a cite that books were looted. Besides the article which does not footnote its source.

  3. Paul C. Schulte
    Simms – I think the library at Alexandria burned a couple of times. Not sure it was looted.


    ” We do know that many volumes were looted by Caesar’s army and shipped to Rome.”

    Paul, I’m starting to get the feeling that if I said the sky was blue, you would say it was green.

    1. Simms – there is no cite to the looting, just that sentence. We have the writings of several historians and geographers. I cannot remember one who said it was looted by Caesar.

  4. John, combine vegetable oil, baby oil and add some solid water. The solid water “mixes” with the oils. 🙂

  5. “I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.” Mahatma Gandhi

  6. Fiver,

    You changed the subject again; you may, of course, delude yourself. You enjoyed your mixture and I can thoroughly appreciate that but the subject was the fact that one cannot mix oil and water. I appreciate that you can mix subjects in one debate but you cannot and never will mix oil and water. You cannot mix oil and water because oil and water won’t mix.

    Did you mix OIL and WATER?

    Did you mix MILK, OIL and WATER?

    You did not mix OIL and WATER because OIL and WATER won’t mix.

    Let’s try this.

    You did not mix OIL and WATER.

    You did mix something else.

    You did mix MILK, OIL and WATER.

    Perhaps next you will mix CONCRETE, MILK, OIL and WATER…or ASPHALT.

    I mean the potential permutations are infinite.

    The fact remains, you did not mix OIL and WATER.

  7. John,

    No need to let you know. Reality is simply not dependent upon your belief. Homogenization and emulsification work regardless of what your “common sense” or belief dictates.

    Believe whatever you want. Use that “common sense.” But I’ll use my brain, education, and the accumulated knowledge of others to live a better life. In other words: I’ll enjoy gravies and sauces, milk and mayonnaise, and, of course, butter. I’ll use tools like soaps and detergents. My car will run more smoothly with a high viscosity oil. I’ll have access to pharmaceutical creams, ointments, liniments, and balms. And the list goes on and on and on.

    All because oil and water can be mixed… and we do it all the time.

  8. The Communist News Network???

    Pravda…Izvestia anyone?

    The next thing you know, America will be a redistributionist welfare state completely under governmental surveillance and control.


  9. Fiver, thank you for your valiant effort to change the subject. You are to be commended.

    You mixed MILK, OIL and WATER.

    The text I presented said that OIL and WATER will not mix.

    When you successfully mix OIL and WATER, let me know.

  10. Patience everyone…patience. I think some people here are the type who go into McDonald’s and ask, “What’s ready?” Not want to wait a minute for what they actually want to order.

  11. Just a little help from our friend, the emulsifier. Guar gum, Xanthan gum, emulsifiers both, used in many products, from baked goods to ice cream. It natural and harmless. Opposites stay together in peace and harmony, beautiful ain’t it?

  12. John,

    We mix oil and water all the time. All you need is an emulsifier. That’s what the flour in a roux is. It’s why the oil and water mix in gravy – and stay mixed.

    Open your refrigerator. Look for the mayonnaise. That’s oil mixed with eggs (which are water based). Check out the milk. Assuming it’s homogenized, it’s also an emulsion of the oil based fat in the cream and the water based remainder.

    There are many emulsions – and many of them are tasty (my favorite is Hollandaise). And no, they don’t separate. The mixture is colloidal.


  13. Bedddar here. Here in Cairo, Illinois. Pulling out of town. My girlfriend, whom I call the Louisville Slugger, has an aunt here whom we stayed with. The town is fairly decayed and the business district all closed. Years ago they fought civil rights battles here. Many whites left. The White Citizens Council was the party in power. Yeah. On to Louisville. Saint Louis is now my favorite city on the Planet. I liked Firenze, Italy too. When we left and looked back across the Mississippi River toward downtown and the Arch, it was quite a sight. People in Missouri are square and tell the truth. I have a built in lie detector from Remulak. By square I mean honest, not boring. The retired Mayor of Ferguson was quite articulate. Charlie Gittos is the best restaurant in America. It is downtown near the Old Courthouse and the Arch. You folks should all visit. On to Louisville with Slugger. And my new Smartphone.

    1. Beldar – are we talking inter-species sexual contact between you and ‘Slugger’? And are you out of the Mercedes? BTW there is a great sculpture garden downtown St. Louis, did you take the time to see it?

  14. bigfatmike:
    “When a criminal is shot dead in the commission of a crime, the blame lies on the criminal, not the victim for effectively defending themselves.”

    I think that formulation leaves out the fact that lethal force is only legal when there is reasonable belief that the subject poses a threat to life or serious maiming.

    Without reasonable belief of threat to life the criminal could be spawn of the devil or carrying off all the gold in Fort Knox and lethal force would not be legally justified.


    True and good points. I was responding to the simplistic formulation that we don’t employ the death penalty for theft.

    And we don’t execute people for jaywalking. But when the jaywalker attacks, he is no longer engaging in jaywalking but aggravated assault, and being beaten by a 6′ 3″ 290 lb man is certainly a life-threatening situation for which deadly force is certainly reasonable. From reading some of the comments here, it sounds like some think Ofc. Wilson should have give “Big Mike” a gun to make it more fair.

  15. Roux is made with oil and flour, it’s browned then water ( or broth) is added. The flour is the ‘glue’ that holds it together. So what does the flour symbolize?

  16. “fiver – Oil and water can mix just fine – and the results can be delicious.
    Buy any basic cook book. Learn how to make a roux (it’s not hard). Then make a sauce or gravy.”

    Fiver, how long does Roux last? If it is truly oil and water, it must, ultimately, separate, oil floating on top of water. It is meant to be – the water must support the oil. Damn! That is profound.

    REPRISE – “Oil and Water Do Not Mix”

    “There are two main reasons why don’t oil and water mix even if they are put in the same container, both of which deal with these two substances on a very small scale. Everything around us is made up of tiny particles known as molecules. The way in which two substances interact depends on the molecules that make up the substances.

    The first reason that water and oil don’t mix is because their molecules are packed differently. The molecules of water are packed very densely. This means if we take equal parts of water and oil, there will be more molecules of water than oil. This also means that it will always sink underneath the oil.

    There is one more reason why they cannot dissolve with each other. Water molecules are positively charged. Since only opposites attract and oil has no charge at all, there is no force between the substances that allow them to mix. Therefore even if you stir a container with oil and water, they will eventually separate into two distinct layers.”

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