Tags: Ferguson in Crisis | Michael Brown | Darren Wilson | juvenile | felony

Court: Michael Brown Had No Juvenile Charges, No Felonies

By    |   Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 10:28 PM

The unarmed black suburban St. Louis teenager fatally shot by a white police officer did not face any juvenile charges at the time of his death and never was charged with a  felony, a court official said Wednesday.

The details came during a hearing on two petitions to open the juvenile records of 18-year-old Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri, whose Aug. 9 death sparked protests and attracted international attention.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which first reported the hearing details Wednesday, filed a petition last month asking a judge to open Brown's files. Charles Johnson, a blogger and journalist who runs the GotNews.com website, filed separately seeking Brown's records.

At the hearing, Cynthia Harcourt, the St. Louis County juvenile office's attorney, offered the most specific public details on whether Brown faced legal trouble before his 18th birthday – though it wasn't revealed whether Brown had ever been charged with lesser offenses as a child.

Juvenile records are confidential in Missouri, but under state law, being charged with certain violent crimes removes those juvenile privacy protections. Police have said Brown had no adult criminal record.

Joe Martineau, an attorney for the Post-Dispatch, cited an overriding public right to know Brown's history after his shooting death by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

"There is interest in knowing Michael Brown's background," Martineau said. "What we're asking for here is just verification, one way or the other . . . We're acting in a vacuum here."

But Harcourt said "simple curiosity" doesn't trump the state's legal interest in protecting minors accused of crimes.

"The court of public opinion does not require the release of juvenile records," she said.

Brown family attorney Anthony Gray said that even if Brown did have a brush with the juvenile court system — including for such low-level offenses as truancy — those details are irrelevant to the question of whether Wilson acted with excessive force.

"I don't know what would be the relevance of that . . . after this young man was executed in broad daylight," said Gray, who attended the hearing but did not speak in court.

Judge Ellen Levy Siwack did not say how long she'd take before issuing a ruling.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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The unarmed black suburban St. Louis teenager fatally shot by a white police officer did not face any juvenile charges at the time of his death and never was charged with a felony, a court official said Wednesday.
Michael Brown, Darren Wilson, juvenile, felony
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2014-28-03
Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 10:28 PM
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