Journalist Charles C. Johnson of Got News confirmed earlier this month that he was told by multiple St. Louis area authorities that Michael Brown had a substantial criminal record as a juvenile – including a second-degree murder charge.
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) August 18, 2014
Since then, he has worked to facilitate the posthumous release of his records.
Brown, whose death in a police shooting sparked ongoing protests in Ferguson, Mo. and across the country, has been portrayed by some as an innocent victim of a racist officer. Subsequent reports have cast doubt on that depiction, and Johnson hopes to shed even more light on the man’s past by releasing details from his prior arrests.
KMOX spoke to a lawyer currently suing to have Brown’s juvenile records released.
“What we’re arguing is that since he is deceased, those documents revert from being confidential,” Johnathon Burns said, “they revert back to the public sphere. Missouri common law applies, and under Missouri common law, court records and virtually all other documents are open to the public.”
Others see the situation differently, including Tricia Harrison, an associate law professor at Saint Louis University.
“To suggest that the general public has a right to know what any juvenile does in any situation is ludicrous,” she asserts.
Of course, the actions of minors are made public for a variety of reasons on a regular basis; and as Johnson notes, it is telling that even legal scholars are unaware of the law in regards to his request.
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) August 28, 2014
Johnson wrote that, as part of the suit to gain access to Brown’s records, Burns is citing another case that bolsters his claim. In 1984, he explained, an 18-year-old was beaten and ultimately died after stealing a pack of cigarettes. During a subsequent wrongful death lawsuit, the victim’s parents pleaded for the court to keep his juvenile record private to no avail.
H/T: IJ Review
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom