Hazing Grand Jury Showed Independent Streak
Posted Sep 17, 2007 11:46 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Were the charges against two administrators charged in the hazing death of a Rider University student a case of a runaway grand jury?
An assistant prosecutor had tried to steer grand jurors away from an indictment of two deans who oversaw students and Greek life, but didn’t succeed, the Trenton Times reports.
Now Mercer County, N.J., Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr. is facing criticism for allowing the indictments in the first place and then failing to keep them secret during a review. He announced charges in the alcohol poisoning death of student Gary DeVercelly with great fanfare six weeks ago, then dropped them weeks later.
At the time of the announcement Bocchini said the indictments send a message that university alcohol regulations must be followed.
Bocchini told the Associated Press last week that he was unsure of the charges when he first learned of the indictment. ''I was grappling with it in my own mind. We were trying to figure out what to do with it,'' he said.
But Bocchini said he had to take the indictment seriously and review the case before making a decision on whether to proceed.
Former Attorney General Robert Del Tufo told the newspaper it’s not necessarily possible or proper to control the grand jury.
“There are instances when the grand jury does whatever it wants," Tufo said. “Even if the prosecutor were to say this is not a good case, sometimes the jury has a mind of its own."