Let citizens present corruption cases, high court urged They should be allowed to bypass prosecutors, 2 lawyers say

Let citizens present corruption cases, high court urged

They should be allowed to bypass prosecutors, 2 lawyers say
October 19, 2006 Asbury Park Press

TRENTON — Two public interest lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow ordinary citizens to bypass prosecutors and present evidence of political corruption directly to a grand jury.

The appeal stems from the so-called Palmyra tapes case — allegations of extortion and bribery, raised against South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross and others, by Palmyra Mayor John Gural and Palmyra solicitor Ted Rosenberg.

Gural and Rosenberg joined the appeal that was announced Wednesday.

At a news conference here Wednesday, the lawyers, David Mayer and Bruce Afran, portrayed Gural and Rosenberg as "heroes" and lamented that neither the state attorney general nor the U.S. attorney for New Jersey sought indictments as a result of the tape recordings of Norcross and others that Gural made.

"Norcross has effectively been immunized from prosecution," said Afran, a Princeton attorney who teaches a course on corruption law at Rutgers Law School in Newark.

Afran and Mayer contend that the right to present evidence directly to a grand jury is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and has roots even deeper in English common law.

But U.S. District Court Judge Stanley R. Chesler disagreed, ruling in January that there is neither a constitutional right nor any statutory authority to bypass prosecutors.

A federal appeals court agreed, refusing to hear the appeal.

William Tambussi, an attorney for Norcross, called the final appeal to the Supreme Court "at best a stab in the dark."

"If the 3rd Circuit, one of the most highly respected in the land, summarily dismisses a case, it's highly unlikely the Supreme Court will consider a late-filed petition," Tambussi said, noting that Mayer and Afran missed an Oct. 5 deadline to file with the high court.

The Supreme Court, in any case, agrees to hear only a small portion of the hundreds of such requests it receives each session.

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