By Ben Swann
St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch made his first remarks about the allegations that multiple witnesses before the Ferguson grand jury perjured themselves when testifying about the confrontation between Darren Wilson and Mike Brown.
Friday, McCulloch spoke with KTRS 550 and said that “Clearly some were not telling the truth.” McCullough continued that he’s not planning to pursue charges against any lying witnesses.
In his first extensive interview since the grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, McCulloch said he had no regrets about letting grand jury members hear from non-credible witnesses.
“Early on I decided that anyone who claimed to have witnessed anything would be presented to the grand jury,” McCulloch said. He added that he would’ve been criticized no matter his decision.
While McCulloch is correct, it is curious that he will not pursue perjury charges for witnesses who were lying under oath. According the The Smoking Gun, the website that broke the story of “Witness 40? lying about even being at the scene of the shooting, there were witnesses who lied both for and against Officer Darren Wilson.
According to the American Bar Association it is much easier to file perjury charges against someone who is testifying before a grand jury than it is to file them against someone who lies during a conventional trial. In fact, Government attorneys have brought numerous prosecutions for perjury under the federal criminal law that prohibits lying to a grand jury.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 1623, it is a crime to “knowingly make . . . any false material declaration” before the grand jury. “False,” for these purposes, merely means incorrect. In contrast, the statute governing perjury in proceedings other than a grand jury requires that the false statement be made willfully—a higher standard. See 18 U.S.C. § 1621.
During a conventional trial, simply giving incorrect information because of confusion or a faulty memory will rarely bring perjury charges. Especially when the standard is for “willfully” incorrect information. In a grand jury proceeding, giving any mistakenly wrong information is a crime, let alone, willfully incorrect information.
Ben Swann interviewed Adam Goldberg with The Smoking Gun about their investigation into “Witness 40?.