Juror Granted Permission To Speak Publicly On Breonna Taylor Case Despite Daniel Cameron’s Efforts To Keep Details Private
The juror said no other charges other than the wanton endangerment charges were presented to them.
October 20, 2020 at 7:46 pm
Update (October 20, 2020): An anonymous juror has been granted permission to speak publicly on the grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case.
A Vice News correspondent tweeted on Monday that a judge ruled in favor of the juror who had previously expressed through their attorney that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron was using the jurors as a scapegoat.
Breaking: A judge has ruled in favor of the anonymous Breonna Taylor grand juror, meaning the juror CAN speak publicly about the grand jury proceedings— Roberto Aram Ferdman (@robferdman) October 20, 2020
“This Court finds that the traditional justification for secrecy in this matter are no longer relevant" pic.twitter.com/OD3mAKPGMk
In the correspondent's thread of tweets, he quoted the motion saying "any participant in those proceedings, including grand jurors, may disclose such information, subject to the trial court's order regarding information to be redacted."
After it was announced that none of the officers in the March 13 raid would face charges in Taylor's death, there was an immediate public demand for Cameron to release audio recordings of the grand jury proceedings to determine what charges were presented, as Blavity previously reported.
But a statement from the juror's attorney stated that "The grand jury was not presented any charges other than the three Wanton Endangerment charges against Detective Hankison."
"The grand jury didn’t agree certain actions were justified, nor did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case. The grand jury was not given the opportunity to deliberate on those charges," the statement added.
Additionally, Judge Amy O'Connell wrote that the "secrecy in this matter are no longer relevant and that the ends of justice requires disclosure."
The juror's attorney held a press conference on Tuesday confirming the motion. He said although it is "unique to have jurors speak out" he doesn't anticipate the motion to have a vast impact on the case "except for anyone who hasn't been charged in this case."
He added that the case against former Louisville Metro Police Department officer Brett Hankison would "move forward untethered" and that "a bulk of [the evidence] has been released to the public."
His office, however, is awaiting a response from Cameron and a possible appeal that could prevent the juror from being able to speak.
Cameron has remained persistent in his attempt to withhold evidence from the public that was presented to the grand jury.
On Monday, Cameron and the attorney for Hankison requested a judge to rescind a previous order granting the release of the evidence, according to ABC News.
Both Cameron and William Stewart Matthews, Hankison's attorney, requested Judge Ann Bailey Smith to either repeal the order or seal the evidence until Hankison's trial.
After agreeing to release the recordings, he requested an extension to redact the personal information of private citizens, as Blavity previously reported. Ultimately, he released 15 hours of the recordings which were unclear and hard to audibly make out. Additionally, the specific charges that his office presented to the grand jury were omitted from the clips.
Now that he's under fire once more to release the actual charges that were recommended, Cameron and Matthews said releasing the files could "permanently taint potential jurors" and that some of the people involved in the case have received death threats.
"The parties submit that filing discovery in the record would allow said materials, many of which may never be admitted as evidence in court, to be published by the media, and permanently taint potential jurors for trial of this matter," the motion read. "Redaction of personal identifiers does not remedy the problem."
The attorneys have also mentioned the heightened awareness of the case as an additional reason to refrain from releasing the evidence.
Original (October 8, 2020): Just last week, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed his own motion asking a court to shut down a grand juror's attempts to speak out about what happened in the Breonna Taylor case, according to a statement released by Cameron.
Cameron previously agreed to release the grand jury recordings in the Breonna Taylor case after an unidentified juror filed a motion demanding the information be released to the public and asking for the ability to speak out.
The juror accused Cameron of using the grand jury's lack of legal knowledge as a way to justify not charging either of the officers who shot Taylor on March 13. Cameron faced withering criticism for admitting he never recommended murder charges, and the public was eager to hear what charges he did tell the grand jury about.
But when Cameron eventually did release 15 hours of audio recordings from the grand jury trial, it is difficult to hear much of what happened and it is critically missing Cameron's charging recommendations, which is what the juror specifically wanted released. Cameron said he was only asked to release recordings of the evidence presented, and that the charging recommendations should not be a part of that.
Now that he is being pressed for that section of the recording, Cameron has asked a court to shut down the request.
“As I’ve stated prior, I have no concerns with a grand juror sharing their thoughts or opinions about me and my office’s involvement in the matter involving the death of Ms. Breonna Taylor. However, I have concerns with a grand juror seeking to make anonymous and unlimited disclosures about the grand jury proceedings," Cameron said in a statement.
"The grand jury process is secretive for a reason, to protect the safety and anonymity of all the grand jurors, witnesses, and innocent persons involved in the proceedings. Allowing this disclosure would irreversibly alter Kentucky’s legal system by making it difficult for prosecutors and the public to have confidence in the secrecy of the grand jury process going forward,” he added.
Grand jury recordings are generally never released, but Taylor's family and others have said Cameron's decision to not recommend murder charges, then telling the public that the grand jury didn't think they were appropriate in this case, during a press conference was reason enough to justify the release, CBS News reported.
The anonymous juror wrote in the September 29 filing that Cameron was "using the grand jurors as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for these decisions."
The juror wanted the right to tell the public about details surrounding the actions outside of those recorded proceedings, including the "discussion of charges that were NOT presented to the grand jury, explanations of the law that were NOT provided to the grand jury, defenses or justifications that were NOT detailed during the proceedings, witnesses that did NOT testify, potential defendants that were NOT presented, and/or individuals or officials who were NOT present for the proceedings," the juror's lawyer wrote in a statement.
CBS News spoke with University of Kentucky College of Law professor, Cortney Lollar, who explained that the average person would not have enough legal knowledge to make any determination about charges on their own.
"Most grand jurors are not lawyers, they aren't experts with the legal process. They're going to take a look at the evidence and the law presented to them and decide whether there's enough to charge based on what's presented to them," Lollar said.
Despite the withering criticism from legal experts and other lawyers, Cameron has defended his decision not to recommend murder charges, telling local news outlet WDRB that the jury could have asked about murder charges if they wanted to.
"I suppose... you know, again, the grand jury had two and a half days to ask questions, you know I suppose if they wanted to push... they're an independent body. If they wanted to make an assessment about different charges they could have done that," Cameron said in an interview with WDRB.
"But our recommendation was that [officers] Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their acts, in their conduct, and that officer Hankison at least it was appropriate at this stage to charge him with wanton endangerment," he added.
Cameron has spent the last week doing a tour of conservative media outlets touting his decision not to charge the officers, and has spoken out about the publicity around the case and the criticism he has faced.
In a statement to CNN, a lawyer for Taylor's family Lonita Baker said the comments highlight Cameron's desire for fame instead of justice.
"It's unfortunate that Daniel Cameron has referred to seeking justice for victims of police brutality as the 'Crump Playbook.' He can't respond to the real criticism that he circumvented the grand jury process but yet he makes time to respond to Megan Thee Stallion's Saturday Night Live performance," Baker said.
"I'd much rather be fighting for justice for Breonna Taylor by demanding a prosecutor who will uphold Kentucky laws for all citizens rather than one who seeks to only protect his own political agenda. Daniel Cameron's playbook is the real issue that needs to be discussed," she added.