Ferguson Prosecutor to Lecture Law Students

By Julissa Catalan

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch is scheduled to appear at a Saint Louis University lecture and many of the school’s students and professors are up in arms about it.

SLU’s Public Law ReviewSymposium, titled “The Thin Blue Line: Policing Post-Ferguson,” is said to “address the legal and societal challenges placed on the justice system in our world post-Ferguson.”

McCulloch is listed as the symposium’s keynote speaker and is expected to take questions in the Q&A scheduled to follow.

Members of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), along with other students, have asked law school Dean Michael A. Wolffwho is set to deliver the event’s welcome speechto withdraw McCulloch’s invitation.

McCulloch has been widely criticized for his handling of the Michael Brown investigation and the no-indictment decision for Darren Wilson that followed.

The prosecutor released evidence from the caseincluding transcriptsthat proved to the public that the process had many cracks in it, such as unreliable witnesses and false or exaggerated testimony.

Still, university President Fred Pestello defended McCulloch’s visit, saying, “These conversations need to happenand SLU needs to be a place that supports and contributes to themif we are to improve the quality of life for everyone in our region.”

In October, SLU was the site of a campus takeover by student demonstrators. The protests stopped once the university vowed to spend more money on the school’s African-American Studies program and work to increase Black student retention.

“The reality is, the university has done a lot to be a part of the solution,” said Assistant Professor of Law Brendan Roediger, who opposes McCulloch’s appearance. “This undoes a lot of that work.”

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar will also participate in the discussion.

The rest of the panelists will consist of university professors from Brooklyn College, the University of Missouri, the University of South Carolina and Wake Forest University.

Registration for the event has already reached capacity.

The event description is below:

“Today’s law-enforcement officials face new hurdles in an era marked by social media, smart phones, a 24-hour news cycle, citizen journalists and a growing divide between local police and the people they are called to serve. With the world’s attention turned on Ferguson, Mo., critique of law-enforcement procedure, tactics and subsequent prosecution procedures is at an all-time high. Through hosting panels on Policing the Protests and Policing the Police, ‘The Thin Blue Line: Policing Post-Ferguson’ will identify legal challenges that face law enforcement on the streets today. This year’s event will bring together academics, law-enforcement officers and practitioners to engage in a candid discussion of the changing environment in which our justice system is closely examined.”

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