April 20, 2015

Garner GJ Appeal Expedited

45 Monroe Place, Brooklyn, NY
NYS Appellate Division for the Second Department
The New York Appellate Division has agreed to expedite the appeal from a lower court's decision rejecting the request to unseal grand jury records in the Eric Garner case. Various parties, including the Legal Aid Society, New York Civil Liberties Union, NAACP and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, had sought a court order to force Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan to unseal and publish grand jury transcripts and exhibits relating to the inquiry into the death of Eric Garner following NYPD Officer David Pantoleo's deadly use of a choke hold. 

Ultimately, and not too surprisingly, particularly given the Staten Island venue, the GJ declined to indict Pantoleo. Given the widely held belief in the legal community that a GJ's decision not to indict in cases such as these is usually the result of a rigged or deliberately flawed presentation (see, People v. Ham Sandwich), the demand to inspect the GJ records was to be expected. The court's initial ruling against the petitioning parties was but the first salvo.

Under the expedited schedule, the opening briefs are due by May 5. Donovan's opposing brief is due by May 26, and any reply briefs by June 2.  Presumably oral argument and a subsequent written decision would follow shortly. Regardless of the outcome, it would not be surprising to see the case eventually land on the Court of Appeals' docket.

More to come, once the briefs are filed.

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