The New York Civil Liberties Union will today pursue an appeal from a Staten Island judge’s March 19 decision to keep secret records from the Grand Jury that failed to indict an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner. The NYCLU in December petitioned the court to release to the public the transcript, as well as the evidence presented and the instructions the jury was given.
“Across the country people are coming together to protest the failure of our criminal justice system to value black lives,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “New York has an opportunity to end the secrecy that has heightened deep-seated suspicions about the criminal justice system’s willingness and commitment to hold police officers accountable when they kill unarmed civilians. We hope the court seizes this moment to provide some much needed transparency for the thousands who continue to demand answers in the streets.”
The NYCLU will file its brief in the Appellate Division, Second Department today. It is joined by the Legal Aid Society, the NAACP of Staten Island and the Public Advocate’s Office in appealing Judge William E. Garnett’s rejection of their requests to disclose the records.
“The Garner controversy has provoked a debate about the need for Grand Jury reform. But discussions regarding the need for reform are proceeding without any real understanding of how and why the Grand Jury reached its decision,” said NYCLU Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg. “This absence of public information can and should be corrected. In a democracy, decisions about the need and nature of reform should rest upon a fully informed discussion by the electorate and its representatives. To provide for that reasoned decisionmaking, the general presumption in favor of Grand Jury secrecy should yield to transparency in this case.”