Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tony Stewart Case To Go To Grand Jury

A district attorney has decided to take evidence gathered in the investigation of the collision  of a car driven by NASCAR's Tony Stewart and sprint car driver Kevin Ward, Jr. that claimed Ward's life at Canandaigua Motor Sports Park in New York to a grand jury rather than make a charging decision himself. Ontario District Attorney Michael Tantillo released the following statement according to USA Today:
"Over the past several weeks, I have reviewed with members of the Ontario County Sheriff's Department their investigation, as it progressed, in the Tony Stewart matter," he said. "Recently that office concluded its work and forwarded the complete case file to me. Upon my review of all of the information contained in the entire investigation, I have made the determination that it would be appropriate to submit the evidence to a grand jury, for their determination as to what action should be taken in this matter.

"Accordingly, the evidence developed in the investigation will be presented to an Ontario County grand jury in the near future."
"Similarly, because of the confidential nature of these proceedings, I cannot state who will be called as witnesses, or what any witness's expected testimony will be," he said. "When the presentation has been completed and a determination has been made, I will advise the public and the media at that time of the results."
Because grand jury proceedings are confidential, Tantillo could not say when those proceedings would be conducted or who he might call as witnesses to testify before the grand jury. He did, however, say that he expected evidence to be presented to a grand jury "in the near future." Stewart is planning to race at this weekend's race in New Hampshire. "I respect the time and effort spent by both the Ontario County District Attorney and the Sheriff's Office in investigating this tragic accident," Stewart said in response to today's announcement. "I look forward to this process being completed, and I will continue to provide my full cooperation." ​

It's difficult to read too much into Tantillo's decision to leave it up to a grand jury to decide whether to bring any charges in the case. District attorneys are elected in New York. Tantillo could be using the grand jury to insulate himself from any criticism he might get from people not happy with the ultimate charging decision. If he felt there was insufficient evidence, he could have made that call and not bothered with a grand jury. Letting the grand jury decide lets him off the hook so to speak if the grand jury decides not to charge Stewart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What's the new rule of law? Walk onto a race track and sue if you get hit?