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Attorneys, law professors weigh in on whether McCulloch should step aside in fatal shooting case

Legal scholars have differing views on whether St. Louis County Attorney Robert McCulloch should step aside

Legal scholars have differing views on whether St. Louis County Attorney Robert McCulloch should step aside in handling the case involving the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer.

Some contend that from the point of view of legal ethics McCulloch should not step aside. Others, including some local attorneys, say there many reasons why someone else should lead the possible prosecution, which is now being considered by a grand jury.

In addition, Davis says a special prosecutor should be appointed, someone who is outside of McCullough’s office. She points out that “he is in charge of that office.”

She also explained that because prosecutors work with police departments all of the time, there is likely going to be some bias in favor of the local police. “In his (McCullough’s) case, it goes beyond that,” she said.

“All prosecutors have life experiences that contribute to their approach to prosecuting and that may potentially influence their judgment, but their election to the position gives rise to a presumption that they can discharge their responsibilities fairly,” he added.

“Let’s judge him on his record, not on his past,” added American University law professor Susan Carle, another prominent leader in legal ethics. She adds she does not see anything in his background that would suggest he would not be zealous enough in the case. She points out too that as a relative of a victim of crime involving gun violence some might argue he could be on Brown’s side.

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Ed Silverstein

Ed Silverstein is a veteran writer and editor for magazines, websites and newspapers. A graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, he has won several...

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