Kentucky’s AG Hustles to Keep Grand Jurors Gagged

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Oct 08, 2020

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is pushing to keep secret the grand jury proceedings and testimony from Breonna Taylor’s case, according to a motion filed Wednesday (October 7), CNN reported. 

Last week, the Courier-Journal newspaper reported that Louisville attorney Kevin Glogower, who represents an anonymous grand juror from Taylor’s trial, asked a judge to release the decision’s secret recordings, transcripts and reports, and to allow jurors to speak freely about it.

"The public deserves to know everything,” Glogower reportedly said. So the judge gave Cameron until yesterday to respond, CNN confirmed, which he did by filing a counter-motion to keep the juror quiet.

In an introduction letter to the motion, Cameron wrote: “As I’ve stated prior, I have no concerns with a grand juror sharing their thoughts or opinions about me and my office’s involvement in the matter involving the death of Ms. Breonna Taylor. However, I have concerns with a grand juror seeking to make anonymous and unlimited disclosures about the grand jury proceedings.” 

Cameron’s 90-page motion used Michael Brown’s case, from six years ago, as an example for continued secrecy after a grand juror fought to speak publicly earlier this year:

In the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, a grand jury was empaneled to investigate and consider whether to bring charges against the Ferguson police officer involved. The grand jury declined to charge that officer. Subsequently, one of the grand jurors asked four courts for permission to “speak out about her experience as a grand juror” and “express opinions about the evidence and the investigation.” Because “grand jury secrecy is intended to protect the public welfare,” each of those courts—two state and two federal—refused that request. So in a case raising the same issue arising from a tragic death in the context of an investigation as highly publicized as this one, each court that considered the matter concluded that the secrecy of the grand jury proceedings is vital to the proper administration of justice.

The day before Cameron filed his motion, on October 6, the national field director of the Movement For Black Lives, Karissa Lewis, wrote an emailed statement to Colorlines, which read in part: 

Between a juror speaking out and Cameron’s own admission this week that he did not recommend homicide charges, it is clear that Cameron never intended to ensure there was justice for Breonna Taylor’s family, and that he aligned himself with the Louisville police department instead of truly standing for what’s right. He chose to protect a system that upholds white supremacy instead of the people being brutalized by it in his own community. As we know, grand juries indict 99.9 percent of the time. When they don’t, it is often because of a lack of will on the part of the state.

The grand jury did indict former Louisville Metro Police Department detective Brett Hankison with “wanton endangerment” of Taylor’s neighbors. But Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, her family and community want to know why no one was directly charged in her death.