Law Students

Prosecutor’s Scheduled Visit Causes Rift at Saint Louis University Law School
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The scheduled lecture from a prosecutor who worked on the Michael Brown case has caused a divide in the law school.

Summary: The students and faculty of Saint Louis University Law School are torn about an upcoming visit by prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who worked on the Michael Brown shooting case.

According to ABC News, St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch is scheduled to visit the students, faculty, and staff of Saint Louis University Law School to deliver a lecture. However, many students and professors who question McCulloch’s handling of the Michael Brown shooting investigation have openly expressed their disapproval of the upcoming event.

  
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The lecture is scheduled for February 20, when the law school hosts an event on police practices after Ferguson. In addition to McCulloch, County Police Chief Jon Belmar will be present at the symposium, as well as five social scientists from other schools.

Read about the protesting that occurred after Brown’s death here.

The law school’s Black Law Students Association, supported by others, has asked the school to rescind the invitation. Michael Wolff, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, is the dean of the law school.

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The students argue that there are ethical and legal questions regarding the handling of the shooting, especially the grand jury proceeding that led to the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot Michael Brown, a black teenager, killing him.  According to Wikipedia, the grand jury was also not sequestered during the proceedings.

McCulloch has admitted that he called witnesses during the grand jury proceeding that “clearly lied” to the jury, such as a woman who alleged that she saw Brown lunge at Officer Wilson. In addition, both the elected prosecutor and two assistants are facing disciplinary complaints for allegedly giving the grand jury improper instructions on the legal standards for use of force by law enforcement.



Michael Brown’s family has vowed to continue to fight for him.

Christina Vogel, a third-year law student who volunteered as a legal observer during the protests after Brown’s death, said, “One of the first things we learn is you don’t put a witness on the stand that you know is lying.”

Vogel and other students shared their grievances and concerns with the president of the school, Fred Pestello, on Monday during a university meeting. Monday also marked six months since Brown was shot. The Huffington Post reports that many were arrested after a vigil that was held to mark the six month anniversary of the shooting.

Some law schools allowed students to postpone exams due to stress they suffered from the protesting and the grand jury decision.

Pestello has defended the invitation to McCulloch, claiming it is part of the school’s academic freedom to do so. In an email to students, he said, “These conversations need to happen—and SLU needs to be a place that supports and contributes to them—if we are to improve the quality of life for everyone in our region.”

Wolff added that currently, the school has no plans to cancel the invitation to McCulloch. He explained that student organizations, not the school administration, extended the invitation to the prosecutor. McCulloch is slated to lecture for approximately 35 minutes, and answer questions from the audience for 25 minutes afterward.

Should the school rescind the invitation to Bob McCulloch?

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The school was taken over by protestors for six days in October. The protesting waned when the school promised to spend more money on its African American studies program and that it would increase efforts to improve black student retention.

Professor Brendan Roediger, who is against McCulloch’s lecturing at the school, said, “The reality is, the university has done a lot to be a part of the solution. This undoes a lot of that work.”

Source: ABC News

Photo credit: SLU.edu



 

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