The grand jury that decided not to indict a white Ferguson, Missouri police officer who fatally wounded an unarmed black teen who charged him was correct in its decision, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said Tuesday on Newsmax TV's
He also blamed TV news media for helping to incite the protesters who looted businesses, started fires, and threw rocks in the wake of the announcement of the grand jury's decision Monday night.
"The grand jury came to the right decision because generally you don't indict someone unless you believe you can convict them at a jury trial," he said. "Any reasonable prosecutor would come to the conclusion that even if he were indicted, he would've been acquitted by a jury because there was reasonable doubt written all over this case."
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Television commentators contributed to inciting the public
with "misinformation," Dershowitz said.
"TV commentators, particularly on CNN, got it wrong," according to Dershowitz. "They were acting as if the probable cause required in a case like this is like the probable cause required to stop, search, or arrest somebody. That's just not the way it works.
"You need to have a conviction that's based on the evidence a jury would probably convict, and that kind of probable cause was lacking in this case. The media did a terrible job of whooping up a frenzy by misinforming the public about how indictments generally work," Dershowitz said.
"You have people on CNN saying, 'well, I'm a former prosecutor, I know I would have indicted in this case.' That's just nonsense. That's not the way indictments work."
Dershowitz predicted there would be no federal civil rights action filed. He said "the same criteria that applied in state court apply even more rigorously in criminal prosecutions by civil rights divisions."
But there will be a civil suit, he said. "It's a close question because in a civil suit you need just preponderance of the evidence," he said. "Even if there were a civil suit, he probably would not be held liable. The evidence is just too uncertain."
Dershowitz also weighed in on the U.S. negotiations with Iran
over its nuclear program, which failed to reach a final agreement by the Nov. 24 deadline and has been given an extension to July 1, 2015 for an agreement.
"The United States and Europe are now simply seeking a delay in the time that it would take Iran to develop nuclear weapons," he said. "They are creating a threshold nuclear state as part of this deal and it's not clear to me that Israel can accept a threshold nuclear state sworn to its destruction."
Characterizing Iran as a "suicide nation," Dershowitz warned that "you can't trust them with not only a nuclear weapon, but with threshold, ability to create a nuclear weapon secretly in a short period of time, so I'm not optimistic as to how these talks will end up."
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Dershowitz said he worries about another Korea or Pakistan, "where we gradually allow an enemy, essentially, to develop nuclear weapons over time.
"The big issue is not whether they're six months or a year away, it's whether they can make that transition secretly without American eyes seeing what they're doing and the transition once you have the centrifuges and the product. The transition from civil to military can be done very quietly. It doesn't need big manufacturing facilities to do it. It can be done very quietly underground, so the great fear is that Iran under this procedure will eventually develop nuclear weapons and that has to stop.
"The president of the United States and Secretary Kerry have to announce unequivocally that it's American policy that Iran will never, ever have nuclear weapons and that the United States will do whatever it takes, including military action if necessary, to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon power."
The administration should include Congress in the negotiations to make sure that if a deal is reached, "it's a deal that not only the president accepts because he may be leaving office relatively soon, but that the American people, through their elected representatives accept, and I don't think the deal as it's now proposed is something the American people accept or Congress would accept."
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