The joke is that most prosecutors could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. He will fail. By Albert B. Kelly. The Purpose Of The Ferguson Grand Jury Was Not To Get An Indictment. The rioting and violence that erupted in Ferguson, Mo., after the news Monday night that a white police officer would not be indicted in the shooting … Michael Steele, an African-American and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, explained it this way in an appearance on MSNBC: "They tell … Former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously remarked that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” The data suggests he … In practice, the grand jury process overwhelmingly favors the prosecution, as no defense evidence is presented. Darren Wilson is the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teen Mike Brown in August, sparking waves of protest. They have just recently just killed another young 12-year-old in Cleveland, Ohio, with a toy gun. In a biographical essay on the New York courts’ website, David Gould writes, “After Judge Wachtler was released from prison, he told an audience at a speech he gave that before his arrest, he was always worried that the ‘ham sandwich’ statement would be the only thing for which he would be remembered. In recent weeks, commentators have reminded us constantly of the old legal adage that a grand jury "will indict a ham sandwich" at the behest of a prosecutor. I think Mr. McCulloch, the prosecutor, handled matters professionally and competently. In the famous words of Sol Wachtler, the former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a … Fernow said it's uncommon for a grand jury not to indict. All contents © 2021 The Slate Group LLC. It seems ironic, now, or sad, or tragic, that it was one-time Chief Judge Solomon Wachtler of the New York Court of Appeals who is credited with … Psychology Today explains: Wachtler, who pleaded guilty to making threats to kidnap Silverman’s daughter, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. An infamous phrase among lawyers is that “you can indict a ham sandwich.” In the wake of the shocking Ferguson grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown, evidence has come to light explaining how the grand jury so badly missed the mark. Of all the unlikely things to indict, why this one? “If a jury can indict a ham sandwich, why is it taking so long?” asked Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson. Your email address will not be published. Finally, keep this in mind: It has often been said that a decent prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich. By joining Slate Plus you support our work and get exclusive content. Finally, keep this in mind: It has often been said that a decent prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich. indict a ham sandwich fivethirtyeight.com | A St. Louis County grand jury on Monday decided not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson in the August killing of teenager Michael Brown. Exculpatory forensic evidence was presented. Well let me explain. Ferguson Legal Experts Love ‘Ham Sandwich’ Indictment Line (Washington Free Beacon) There were so many smart takes, it was hard to keep track during Monday’s coverage of a Ferguson grand jury’s decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown. In 1993, he was indicted for extortion and other crimes. In his etymological blog post, Popik says the Jewish judge “told me that he regrets that he didn’t say ‘pastrami’ sandwich, adding that he may (surely) have been misquoted about ‘ham.’ “. And they continued to use violence even after the Ferguson case. You’ve run out of free articles. Prosecutors can get a grand jury to indict a “ham sandwich” as the famous New York Chief Judge Sol Wachtler once said. He or she presents the evidence along with some witness testimony to make a case for indictment, and the jurors vote on it. First, the burden of proof at a Grand Jury proceeding is probable cause. Where did that delicious, evocative phrase come from? Now, he said, he wishes that the quote would be the only thing for which he would be remembered.” That wish will surely come true—the ham sandwich he made 30 years ago will still be edible long after Wachtler’s personal scandal fades from view. “A good DA can indict a ham sandwich, when they want to. “But mainly you used the grand jury to indict people,” Wolfe wrote, “and in the famous phrase of Sol Wachtler, chief judge of the State Court of Appeals, a grand jury would ‘indict a ham sandwich,’ if that’s what you wanted.”, Of all the sandwiches in all the delis in all the world, why a ham sandwich? they say you can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. The “ham sandwich” got some more cultural cachet when Tom Wolfe included the saying in the 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities. The grand jury, … Tweet Share Copy Arts & Entertainment Books ... can get a grand jury to "indict a ham sandwich." When they don’t get those indictments, they don’t want to get them,” he said. And you'll never see this message again. The grand jury process has been in the news again, as Americans debate the decision by one in St. Louis County, Mo., not to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 … “A grand jury could ‘indict a ham sandwich,’ but apparently not a white police officer,” wrote the U.K.’s Independent. Unprocessed rape kits are not a problem in Idaho, despite what the media says. will this one be that easy? Regardless of whether it was pastrami or ham, Wachtler got to observe the sandwich-making process from both sides of the lunch counter. ... Ferguson Advertisement. Although ham is indeed a common lunchmeat, Wachtler wasn’t convinced he’d picked the right kind of flesh. In Ferguson case, Paul Callan says the grand jury is the right way to decide if charges should be brought against Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown. To recap the relevant facts: Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed eighteen-year-old man, on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. Not when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in Ferguson. Ferguson, Grand Jury, and Indicting a Ham Sandwich. No sane prosecutor would indict a ham sandwich – i.e. I don’t think it’s very difficult to figure out what that was. It is for this reason that most lawyers say, repeating the famous expression of the former chief judge of the highest New York state court, Sol Wachtler, that prosecutors can get grand juries to “indict a ham sandwich.” “#Ferguson: Judge: A 'grand jury' will indict a ham sandwich -- if the government wants it to https://t.co/geyehXmfhl” When a DA Wants to Indict a Ham Sandwich The ham sandwich gets indicted. It's the lack of video in Ferguson that now, especially now, has to make you wonder what those jurors missed. It is exactly these processes that are expressed in the events in Ferguson. And St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch did not want an indictment. And St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch did not want an indictment. by Douglas M. Parker; November 30, 2014; The scenes of burning buildings in Ferguson, immediately following a Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, were appalling and depressing. In the aftermath of a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, commentators have noted that such an outcome is quite rare. Anytime any other citizen defends themselves. The no-indictment decision was the final criminal word on the matter. Except, apparently, in Ferguson and New York. Compared to a conviction by a trial jury, an indictment requires a lower threshold of evidence and it needs only nine votes, as opposed to a unanimous vote. As New York Judge Sol Wachtler said in 1985, “If a district attorney wanted, a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich.” Grand juries are the prosecutor’s babies. Before swearing in O’Keefe on January 15, 2015, Judge O’Neill gave a short speech. Just a day after the grand jury announced not to indict police officer Darren Wilson, the city of Ferguson remains tense. DIGITALLY DEFENDED BY CYBERLICIOUS, Ferguson, Grand Jury, and Indicting a Ham Sandwich. New York State Chief Judge Sol Wachtler is quoted as saying that “a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich, if that’s what you wanted.” And after months and … He also didn't want a non-indictment. He ends up having to stand up in front of a jury and try to make the ham sandwich a case for conviction. What he can indict a ham sandwich why not indict this officer it. As the old saying goes (and as you are taught in law school), “A grand jury could indict a ham sandwich.” Like all clichés, it stems from some nugget of truth. Garner's last words, as Amy Davidson points out in … Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. The nail in the coffin of “equal justice under law” came on Nov. 24, when the St. Louis County grand jury refused to indict Wilson for any criminal charges in the shooting death of Brown. indict a ham sandwich. On a federal level (different than the state level, like in Ferguson, Missouri, where most cases are brought before judges for an indictment rather then grand juries), in 2010 (the last year for which we have statistics), grand juries … Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Wednesday criticized grand jury decisions to not indict white police officers in the deaths of black men in New York and Ferguson, Mo. The Purpose Of The Ferguson Grand Jury Was Not To Get An Indictment. Government abuse of the grand jury system has become so notorious and problematic, it caused New York Court of Appeals Judge Sol Wachtler to famously say nearly 30 years ago that if a prosecutor wanted to, a grand jury would “indict a ham sandwich.”. To the majority-black community in Ferguson, Brown's death was seen as something that could happen to them or their own sons. The point being that a grand jury proceeding is heavily biased toward the prosecution. That is why the common phrase “the government can indict a ham sandwich” is so often quoted. When they don’t get those indictments, they don’t want to get them,” he said. In contrast, the 12 members of the Ferguson panel (nine white, three black) were asked to … A well-worn saying is that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. … It is an old joke that a Grand Jury would indict a ham sandwich if you wanted them to. asked Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson. In the Ferguson case involving the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, Officer Darren Wilson was invited to testify. Recently, two grand juries decided the fate of police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. If that’s the case, why has it been so hard to get an indictment over police officers blatantly accused of wrongdoing lately? Ferguson and Michael Brown . In the aftermath of a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, commentators have noted that such an outcome is quite rare. In fact, it’s so easy in most cases that a former New York state chief judge, Sol Wachtler, famously remarked that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.”. All rights reserved. In November, a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to indict a Ferguson officer in the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Follow @lexiconvalley on Twitter or on Facebook. ‘If you can indict a ham sandwich, why can’t you indict Officer Wilson?’ News & Politics. If that’s the case, why has it been so hard to get an indictment over police officers blatantly accused of wrongdoing lately? Amazon.de/Fashion: Kostenlose Lieferung und Rückgabe. Prosecutors have a vast amount of leeway and control when it comes to grand jury proceedings. However, in the case of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown, the prosecutor doesn’t … The point being that a grand jury proceeding is heavily biased toward the prosecution. In a September 12 column titled "Ferguson tragedy becoming a farce," Milibank referenced the well-worn adage about a prosecutor's power over grand juries: "A grand jury will indict a … After his arrest, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and is now an advocate for the mentally ill. Wachtler, who is 84, had his law license restored in 2007. Judge Sol Wachtler famously said that a … Blog No. The decision wasn’t a surprise — leaks from the grand jury had led most observers to conclude an indictment was unlikely — but it was unusual. As we’ve all heard by now, any halfway-decent prosecutor can get a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich” if that’s the outcome she wants. a case that is a sure loser. In legal circles, the saying is that prosecutors, before a grand jury, could indict a ham sandwich if they wanted too. In most cases, a grand jury is a supple tool in the hands of a prosecutor bent on an indictment. A prosecutor might be able to get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, as the saying goes, but not two police officers who caused the deaths of unarmed men. “A good DA can indict a ham sandwich, when they want to. I was a grand juror and I would have voted to indict in Ferguson I was a grand juror, and I can tell you they indict all the time. The joke comes from the reality that Grand Jury proceedings are kind of a sham. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. So you can see that the unwillingness to indict the police officer is a bizarre outcome and clearly reflects that something else was going on. “A prosecutor can have a grand jury indict a ham sandwich if he wants to.”–― former New York State chief judge Sol Wachtler commenting in a 1985 interview how district attorneys have so much influence on grand juries that “by and large” they can “indict a ham sandwich.” ... can get a grand jury to "indict a ham sandwich." Jetzt bestellen! The Flames of Ferguson and the Grilling of the DA. A demonstrator carries a picture of Michael Brown during a protest along Florissant Avenue on Aug. 16, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo. But, in fact, the point of a grand jury is for the prosecutor to get whatever outcome he or she wants. 53. Barnstable District Court Judge James O’Neill CAPE COD WAVE PHOTO. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Wednesday criticized grand jury decisions to not indict white police officers in the deaths of black men in New York and Ferguson, Mo. "A grand jury would indict a ham sandwich," or so the saying goes. But, in fact, the point of a grand jury is for the prosecutor to get whatever outcome he or she wants. Government abuse of the grand jury system has become so notorious and problematic, it caused New York Court of Appeals Judge Sol Wachtler to famously say nearly 30 years ago that if a prosecutor wanted to, a grand jury would "indict a ham sandwich." Not when Daniel Pantaleo choked Eric Garner in Staten Island. A prosecutor might be able to get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, as the saying goes, but not two police officers who caused the deaths of unarmed men. As Barry Popik explains, Sol Wachtler, the former chief judge of New York state, coined the term in a January 1985 interview with the New York Daily News’ Marcia Kramer and Frank Lombardi. Prosecutors have a vast amount of leeway and control when it comes to grand jury proceedings. Recently, two grand juries decided the fate of police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. Government abuse of the grand jury system has become so notorious and problematic, it caused New York Court of Appeals Judge Sol Wachtler to famously say nearly 30 years ago that if a prosecutor wanted to, a grand jury would "indict a ham sandwich." Prosecutors Who Can’t Indict a Ham Sandwich. You can cancel anytime. As the old saying goes (and as you are taught in law school), “A grand jury could indict a ham sandwich.” Like all clichés, it stems from some nugget of truth. Prosecutors can get a grand jury to indict a “ham sandwich” as the famous New York Chief Judge Sol Wachtler once said. Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. The relevant bit: A month later, the New York Times noted that Wachtler believed grand juries “operate more often as the prosecutor’s pawn than the citizen’s shield.” That belief—that prosecutors can get grand juries to do whatever they want them to do—will sound familiar to anyone who’s been listening to criticism of St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch. They were all the more so because they were not all that surprising. An old saw holds that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. Indict A Ham Sandwich T-Shirt. In Ferguson, the public waited in the dark for months as the secret grand jury heard testimony. 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