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St. Louis County grand jury on hold due to former foreman's lawsuit

St. Louis County grand jury on hold due to former foreman's lawsuit

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CLAYTON • Meetings of the St. Louis County grand jury were placed on hold Monday while the former foreman fights a judge’s decision to remove him.

An appeals court stayed meetings until at least Oct. 28. Judge Angela Quigless of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, gave Circuit Judge Steven Goldman until Oct. 26 to respond to claims by the grand juror, identified in court documents as John Roe.

In a lawsuit filed last week, Roe claims he was removed Sept. 28, in part because of his role in a series of Ferguson-related lawsuits when he worked as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. He left the ACLU in March and is working elsewhere.

The suit says Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch complained about Roe, telling Goldman that as an ACLU lawyer, he had been involved in filing cases that, among other things, alleged that actions taken by police during the Ferguson unrest were unconstitutional.

Roe also helped represent a member of an earlier grand jury, who is seeking court permission to speak out in public about that panel’s decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown last year. Grand jurors are limited in revealing their actions.

Roe’s lawsuit says that Goldman called him in and removed him after saying that there was a “potential” conflict.

McCulloch declined, through a spokesman, to talk about the case last week. His spokesman could not be reached Tuesday. 

Last week, Goldman referred a reporter to a court official who did not return calls seeking comment.

Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, complained last week that no state law justifies the grand juror’s removal. “Grand juries are supposed to be independent bodies. Allowing the prosecuting attorney to change the grand jury midterm is antithetical to the notion that grand juries are independent,” he said in a statement.

UPDATED: A spokesman for MCulloch on Wednesday said that Goldman is represented by the county counselor's office, not McCulloch.

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