CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) Lingering questions about Michael Brown could be answered Wednesday when a judge considers two media requests to release any possible juvenile records of the unarmed 18-year-old who was killed by a Missouri police officer last month.
Juvenile records are confidential in Missouri, so it’s not known if Brown was arrested before he legally became an adult. Police have said Brown had no adult criminal record. The family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, has refused to discuss whether Brown had a juvenile record.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and a California online journalist asked St. Louis County Family Court to determine whether Brown had past legal trouble. Both cite an overriding public right to know Brown’s background after his shooting death by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson sparked more than a week of sometimes-violent protests and drew international scrutiny.
But the efforts to obtain Brown’s juvenile records â if there are any records â have been criticized by some who say his past is irrelevant to the question of whether Wilson responded with excessive force.
The basic legal argument boils down to the question of whether Brown’s privacy rights extend beyond the grave.
The lawsuit by Charles C. Johnson of Fresno, California, cites a 1984 Missouri Court of Appeals ruling in which the juvenile records of an 18-year-old who was killed by a security guard while shoplifting at a supermarket in 1979 were released in a wrongful death lawsuit.
That man’s mother challenged a trial court’s decision to release the records to defendants who were hoping to determine the 18-year-old’s lost earning capacity.
“It certainly is not much of a stretch to go from the case law that exists right now to that theory,” said Jean Maneke, who is counsel to the Missouri Press Association.
But Washington University law professor Mae Quinn, director of the school’s juvenile law clinic, called the case cited by Johnson, editor-in-chief of the website GotNews.com, “completely irrelevant,” since he does not have a vested legal interest in the Brown case.
“The biggest distinction is they were real parties to a real suit,” she said, referring to the grocery store owners’ successful challenge for the juvenile records. “There was a real dispute. That’s a major distinction.”
“The cited case in no way deals with release of records, much less release to a member of the general public,” she added.
A grand jury in another Clayton courtroom is also scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider that issue, and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is investigating the shooting.
Remembering Mike Brown On His 19th Birthday (May 20, 1996- August 9, 2014)
1. Mike Brown, just a normal 18-year-old on his way to collegeSource:Facebook 1 of 30
2. Mike Brown playing around with a family memberSource:Facebook 2 of 30
3. Mike Brown's mother Lesley McFadden and father, Michael Brown, Sr. at a press conference.Source:Associated Press 3 of 30
4. Lesley McSpadden, Mike Brown's mother and his stepfather, Louis Head, comfort each other after his death.Source:Associated Press 4 of 30
5. Residents of Ferguson, Missouri create a memorial where Mike Brown was killed.Source:Associated Press 5 of 30
6. Clergy and residents gather in Ferguson.Source:Francis family 6 of 30
7. Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson.Source:Associated Press 7 of 30
8. Police and protestors come face to face in Ferguson.Source:Associated Press 8 of 30
9. Riot police on the scene in Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Associated Press 9 of 30
10. Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Associated Press 10 of 30
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12. Peaceful protest in Ferguson, Missouri.12 of 30
13. Howard University students stand in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Instagram 13 of 30
14. National Moment of Silence protest around the country, this one shut down Times SquareSource:Twitter 14 of 30
15. Missouri Highway Patrol captain Ron Johnson changes the police tone in Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Associated Press 15 of 30
16. Milwaukee, Wisconsin protestors stand in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Facebook 16 of 30
17. Out of the mouths of babes.Source:Facebook 17 of 30
18. A candle for peace glows as part of a vigil in St. LouisSource:Twitter 18 of 30
19. Teens in Philadelphia observe the NMOS'14. It's all about LOVE.Source:Bill Chenevert 19 of 30
20. Mike Brown allegedly involved in store confrontation/robbery before his death.Source:Ferguson Police 20 of 30
21. Police stats from Ferguson, Missouri.Source:Mother Jones infographic 21 of 30
22. Protesters vandalize a police vehicle outside of the Ferguson city hall on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.Source:AP 22 of 30
23. Police officers confront protesters Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.Source:AP 23 of 30
24. ferguson_pend1-custom24 of 30
25. Police shoot pepper spray toward protesters in front of the Ferguson Police Department on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.Source:AP 25 of 30
26. In this aerial photo,people look at a row of charred cars at a used car dealership, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Dellwood, Mo.Source:AP 26 of 30
27. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Dallas, TX.Source:Instagram 27 of 30
28. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Atlanta, Georgia.Source:Instagram 28 of 30
29. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Boston, Massachusetts.Source:Instagram 29 of 30
30. Citizens protest the Ferguson Decision in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Source:Instagram 30 of 30
(Photo Source: Facebook)