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Judge Rejects Release Of Grand Jury Testimony In Eric Garner Case

A New York state judge has refused to release grand jury testimony about the death last year of Eric Garner on Staten Island.

Garner, 43, died in July after being placed in a chokehold as he was being arrested for selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk. A grand jury decided in December not to indict the police officer involved in the death.

A bid to release the normally secret grand jury proceedings in the Garner case was made by the New York City public advocate, the Legal Aid Society, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York Post, and the NAACP and its Staten Island chapter. Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan had opposed the disclosure of the proceedings.

State Supreme Court Justice William Garnett noted that they had not shown a "compelling and particularized need" for the testimony's release, as is required by law.

"If every newsworthy case were deemed compelling and, thus justified disclosure, the veil of grand jury secrecy would be lifted and every citizen's right to have fellow citizens, sitting on a grand jury, check the power of the police and the prosecutor without pressure from outside influences — real or perceived — would be imperiled," Garnett wrote in his order.

The grand jury's decision last December came soon after a similar one in Ferguson, Mo., where an officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. (The grand jury testimony in that case was released.) The two killings prompted large protests — some violent — across the country.

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