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State v. Anderson

Decided: July 10, 1972.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICHARD ANDERSON, ALFRED RAVENELL, ALBERT EATON, ERVIN SMART AND JAMES MCKEEVER, DEFENDANTS



McGann, J.s.c.

Mcgann

This matter arises as a result of a motion to dismiss indictment SGJ 7-72-23 charging defendants with assault and battery on a state correction officer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:90-4 at a state institution known as the Yardville Reformatory. Defendants were inmates there.

By petition, the Attorney General sought, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:73A-1 et seq. , an order empaneling a state grand jury. An order was duly allowed, dated March 31, 1971, by Judge Kingfield, A.J.S.C., based on the reasons set forth in said petition.

The petition was rather broad in scope, but among other things, included alleged violations of the criminal laws of New Jersey and violations "which involves inter county activity * * *." The indictment in question resulted from matters involving state penal institutions and apparently grew out of an investigation covering disorder and criminal activities in more than one institution.

The order by Judge Kingfield indicated it was allowed for "good cause having been shown" and pursuant to the authorized statutes, N.J.S.A. 2A:73A-1 through 2A:73A-9.

It is claimed by the movants that the indictments should be dismissed because they are not in keeping with the purposes set out in the statutes, supra , and are, therefore, ultra vires.

At the outset, I think it should be pointed out that the duly designated assignment judge found there was a proper basis for allowing an order empaneling the grand jury. This being so, this court must acknowledge that there is a presumption of validity and, moreover, a substantial legal and factual basis for allowance of the order of March 31, 1971. For this court to do otherwise would open the return of any indictment by a state grand jury to an easy, inane attack. Furthermore, it would place upon the assignment judge the duty of monitoring the activity of the grand jury.

It is further contended that the order does not meet the prescription of N.J.S.A. 2A:73A-2, to wit:

In making his determination as to the need for impaneling a State grand jury, the judge shall require among other things, a showing that the matter cannot be effectively handled by a county grand jury. (Emphasis added)

Such "a showing" may appear in the petition seeking the empaneling of the jury and, of course, can be inferred from the nature of the investigation as well as the expense involved, having in mind the budgetary problems of county governments that so pragmatically bear on the question whether the matter can "be effectively handled by a county grand jury."

It is quite conceivable that a "county grand jury" could not effectively investigate and successfully prosecute a difficult, complex, organized and subversive institutional problem such as a reformatory riot because of its enormity and the criminal chicanery resorted to by participating inmates, which might require special institutional personnel and state police, as well as experienced state penologists.

Generally speaking, the State has at its command a more generous budget, investigators with special expertise and an Attorney General's staff ...


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