Grand Illusions

For six years now, the Rocky Flats grand jurors have been threatened with the real possibility of contempt-of-court charges if they breach secrecy rules. But if they were allowed to talk, they'd tell you that what they want to talk about is how the Department of Justice stymied their investigation.

Ironic, isn't it, that now the Rockwell/Ramsey attorney is urging a grand jury to investigate the Boulder cops? "The Ramseys have asked the grand jury to look into police misconduct in the case," says Jonathan Turley, the attorney for the grand jurors barred by Matsch from discussing their case--but not the Ramseys'. "There's always a chance that everyone's ox will be gored."

The Ramsey attorneys are willing to take that chance--or at least willing to give the appearance of being team players on the DA's side. "You have been quoted as saying that a grand jury may be appropriate to secure the Ramseys' cooperation," they wrote Hunter. "Now that the investigation has been turned over to objective and competent professionals, the Ramsey family is eager to assist."

And the Ramseys may have to: subpoenas to appear before the private citizens who sit on a grand jury are not as easy to ignore as the Boulder cops' early, touchy-feely entreaties to John and Patsy Ramsey to please, please, pretty please come by for a mocha and a chat. But then, that grand jury will hear only evidence presented by Hunter's prosecutors--who've thus far displayed all the toughness of a marshmallow floating in that mocha. Even if the DA sends the Ramsey case to a grand jury, don't expect an indictment to come out of it.

But something else could emerge: the truth. As originally envisioned, grand juries were not rubber stamps of professional prosecutors, but citizens' groups charged with resolving public controversies--and reporting on their findings. And like the U.S. Constitution, which allows federal grand juries to submit reports of their investigations (as the Rocky Flats grand jurors did), a law passed last year gives a Colorado grand jury the right to create a "public record" of its investigation--if that investigation does not lead to an indictment.

The law has loopholes galore, of course. For example, a grand jury's report can't be made public if its sole effect is to "ridicule or abuse a person or business." Clearly, it's too late for the Boulder authorities to use that escape clause; no report could make them seem more ridiculous than they've made themselves look over the past year.

But you can bet that Haddon's already trying it on for size.

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