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Lawyer: Brown never convicted of serious felony

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 3, 2014 at 11:29 pm •  Published: September 3, 2014
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CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — The 18-year-old fatally shot by a suburban St. Louis police officer didn't face any juvenile charges at the time of his death and never was convicted of a serious felony such as murder, robbery or burglary, a juvenile court system lawyer said Wednesday.

Those details emerged at a hearing in which two media organizations sought the release of any possible juvenile records for Michael Brown. An attorney for the Brown family called the effort to get the records "shameful" and motivated by "character assassination."

Cynthia Harcourt, the St. Louis County juvenile office's attorney, offered the most specific public details on whether Brown faced legal trouble before his 18th birthday — a subject of intense speculation in a case that has garnered global attention. The 45-minute hearing before a St. Louis County family court judge didn't reveal whether Brown had ever been charged with lesser offenses as a juvenile, or charged with a more serious crime that resulted in a finding of delinquency — the juvenile court equivalent of a conviction.

Juvenile records are confidential in Missouri, but under state law, being charged with certain violent crimes removes those juvenile privacy protections. Police have said Brown had no adult criminal record.

Joe Martineau, an attorney for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, cited an overriding public right to know Brown's history after his early August shooting death by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson sparked more than a week of sometimes-violent protests and drew international scrutiny.

"There is interest in knowing Michael Brown's background," Martineau said. "What we're asking for here is just verification, one way or the other ... We're acting in a vacuum here."

A northern California journalist joined the St. Louis newspaper in seeking the records.

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