Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty on Dec. 28, 2015
The Ohio Eighth District Appeal Court ruled unanimously this week that the grand jury transcript from the Tamir Rice case should remain entirely sealed.
The Cleveland NAACP had sought an unprecedented release of portions of the transcript. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy R. McDonnell ruled last March it should remain secret and that releasing it would set a precedent for the future that would "eviscerate the historical practice of guarding the secrecy of grand jury proceedings." The organization had appealed her decision.
The Eighth district sided with McDonnell but also delivered some harsh criticisms of former county prosecutor Tim McGinty, who publicly released selected reports from the investigation before the grand jury had reached a decision.
"The fact that the office of the former prosecuting attorney disseminated selected portions of the evidence presented to the grand jury under the guise of 'transparency' was inappropriate," Judge Eileen Gallagher wrote in the opinion.
The NAACP had specifically requested portions of the transcript that would show whether or not McGinty made a recommendation to the grand jury before asking them to vote whether the shooting was justified or not.
(Original story 7/28/17): The Cleveland NAACP officially filed its appeal to the Ohio Eighth District Court this week in its quest to have a limited portion of the Tamir Rice grand jury transcripts released publicly.
The organization had filed a notice of appeal in April of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy R. McDonnell's ruling in March in which she said that while the case had received "an enormous amount of media coverage"
releasing the transcripts would set a precedent for future releases and "eviscerate the historical practice of guarding the secrecy of grand jury proceedings."
New Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley made his support for a limited release of the proceedings part of his campaign last year; his office made good on that pledge this year, filing a motion saying he wouldn't oppose the Cleveland NAACP's efforts.
For its part, the organization argued that previous Prosecutor Tim McGinty had voluntarily released multiple reports that were presented to the grand jury on his own before recommending that no charges be filed. In the scope of the appeal, they're looking specifically for what McGinty said to the grand jury before asking the members to vote whether the shooting was justified or not. As per McGinty's policy on police deadly use-of-force cases, criminal charges would not be considered by the grand jury unless a vote found the action was unreasonable, which the Tamir Rice grand jury did not.
“What we want to know is, was there a recommendation to the grand jury," Michael Nelson of the Cleveland NAACP told Ideastream
. "What was the reaction by the grand jury to that recommendation if there was one? And if there wasn’t a recommendation to the grand jury, what was said to the grand jury to justify a lack of a recommendation?”