Ferguson,Crane Future Legal Challenges
COLUMBIA - After the state decided to vacate the charges against Ryan Ferguson, several legal questions are left pending about the possibility of another trial and the consequences of withheld evidence.
The state's Attorney General Chris Koster released the statement on the case Tuesday afternoon:
"After studying the appellate court's opinion in Ferguson v. Dormire and carefully reviewing the remaining known evidence in the case, the Attorney General's office will not retry or pursue further action against Ryan Ferguson at this time," the office wrote.
The last line in the statement "at this time" left some wondering if Ferguson could face charges in the future.
"The attorney general's office said that because they have no reason to think they are going to charge Ryan Ferguson with a crime. But as a theoretical matter, if they got great evidence in this murder, they're not going to say there's no way they're not going to charge this guy ever no matter what," said Ben Trachtenberg, University of Missouri law professor.
Trachtenberg said while it is unlikely new compelling evidence will come about, it could happen.
When the court decided to vacate charges against Ferguson, it said the prosecuting attorney's office "failed to disclose favorable evidence" resulting in a Brady Violation. A Brady Violation is unconstitutional and is incited after a party has been proven to have withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense.
Trachtenberg said former prosecutor Kevin Crane, now a Boone County Circuit judge, could see two options: Ferguson could choose to sue Judge Crane individually, or members of the prosecuting attorney's office for violation of his constitutional rights. Or, Crane could face ethical disciplinary actions from the bar. But Trachtenberg said in each option, they would have to prove that Crane and/or his office knowingly and purposefully withheld the evidence.