It seemed to me that the very structure of these interviews fostered courtesy, a posture of respect, on the part of the person conducting the interrogation. Prosecutors need the cooperation of both witnesses and jurors. They also must do their work in a manner safe from legal challenge. So they are forced to cultivate patience: patience with procedure; patience with witnesses, many of whom are afraid or upset or inarticulate or barely audible; and patience with lay jurors operating on the basis of common sense and whatever bundle of attitudes and information they happen to bring with them into the jury room.This was apparently a highly unusual grand jury, one conducted with particular patience -- indeed, it sounded from his description almost as if he elected to run it as a second trial, one that would identify which of the witnesses were most credible and how their testimony fit with the physical evidence. That's unusual, although perhaps our system would work better if it were the standard practice.
Will it be as satisfying as an acquittal at trial, which this result strongly suggests would have occurred had the grand jury operated along more standard practices? I expect some will argue that the differential treatment constitutes an unjust preferential treatment for the officer (though if so it seems to me that the way to fix that injustice is to take more time to present a full and fair analysis of the facts at grand juries generally). On the other hand, if the facts are clear, the facts are clear and it is right not to put the public through another year or more of trauma over what was clearly going to be an acquittal.
In any case, the speech strongly conveyed a sense of a governmental authority figure taking pains to make sure that nothing was hidden, that everything was understood, and that the public could see that the system worked in a highly controversial case. Those qualities of competence and transparency we could use a lot more of from government.
Apparently not everyone was persuaded.
I'm putting this up so that she can have her say. At the moment she is terribly angry, and clearly views the process -- which seems to have been very thorough, and which has now released the evidence for the public to analyze on our own -- as a lie. When time has passed, it will be interesting to see what statutory changes her group proposes to address these issues. That part sounds like an interesting idea.
UPDATE: The released documents related to the case, thousands of pages in length. I'm sure people will pour through them carefully over the next weeks. Hopefully, the transparency involved will help mitigate the anger. In time, people may come to agree with the grand jury.