Last Tuesday, a Nassau Grand Jury voted not to indict my client Jillian Greico for Assault in the Second or Third Degree or for Harassment. In other words they acquitted her of all charges. In fact they didn't just find her not guilty, they found her to be INNOCENT!!
Too little, too late.
On Halloween, Jill went out with a few friends and participated in the age old "tradition" of egging each other. One kid's egg(not Jill's) accidentally struck a younger kid under the eye. When the egg cracked part of the shell cut his cornea. He is allegedly partially blinded. I say allegedly because I have heard all kinds of reports from full blindness to no issue. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
At the time of the incident, no one knew the boy had been injured. The next day, the injury was reported on the front page of Long Island's daily newspaper of record Newsday, and in all of the major area media on Long Island and in NYC. When Jill learned of the injury, she immediately went to the police. They thanked her for her information and honesty by arresting her and all but one boy, who took part in the prank. That boy's parents lawyered him up, so he went to the police with a lawyer and he got immunity for ratting out his friends. Of course it turns out that he was the kid who supplied the eggs. Seems that ,but for that kid, nobody would have gotten hurt. Thus it makes sense that the guy who is most responsible walks away and isn't even charged.
Now this was, as I said, an accident. Even the police admitted that no one meant for anyone to get hurt. Nevertheless, police and prosecutors at the victim's family's insistence made arrests and tried to upgrade the original charges to a felony. That seemed to me to be absolutely ridiculous. What bothered me more however was the reaction of the other boys charged. Instead of fighting this indictment the way Jill did, they caved in and entered guilty pleas to the original misdemeanor charges. Whatever they were thinking, it is sad someone didn't tell them that accidents happen. Now those guys who all took guilty pleas must do 3 years probation. What a waste of taxpayers money.
When I juxtapose this incident to the accident Vice President Dick Cheney just had, it is clear that the best intentions can still put one at risk of hurting another. In our ever litigious country every childhood act calls out for not only a negligence action but a criminal prosecution to boot. Somebody please tell me how this was a criminal act. I am wondering how many children are going to be deterred next year from throwing eggs on Halloween because of this accident and prosecution. If the answer is none I would not be surprised. Eggs crack just like water balloons explode and snowballs disintigrate on contact. No one in their right minds (except for comedian Kevin Meaney's mother) thinks tossing one on Halloween is going to put someone's eye out. It just isn't a crime even if you live in Oyster Bay Cove and the people throwing eggs at you live in Woodbury, two of the richest neighborhoods on Long Island (or in America.)
Another thing, does anybody here think the Nassau District Attorney's office and the Police would have made an arrest if this had happened in Hempstead or Roosevelt? Would the TV cameras covered it? I strongly doubt it.
Of course the damage is done to Jill already too. Her name and address as well as her picture have been placed all over the NY Televison and Newspaper scene. She has received hate mail and threats on the phone and through the internet. She has had her innocence stolen. Although she is an honor student and a real good person, people now think her irresponsible and sophomoric, and for what? In her case, her egg didn't even hit anyone, it just landed harmlessly on the ground.
Maybe we are spending too much money here on Long Island for prosecutors and Police. Maybe they need more real crime to prosecute or maybe we just need less of them. I didn't think so until this case came along. Two detectives, two days or more of Grand Jury time, a top prosecutor (nope they didn't use a newbie out of the District Court bureau for this case)the time of four well known and expensive attorneys (yes That Lawyer Dude is expensive when he charges for his time)numerous court appearances (which entailed the use of judge's time, court personnel, and courtroom facilities.) All this waste over a childhood prank and a terrible accident. I estimate that the total cost of this fiasco to the kids, families, and our county, equaled over One Hundred Fifty Thousand($150000.00) Dollars. Imagine the impact half that amount could have if we donated it to a charity that provides sight to the needy, or to a Lions club that provides glasses to those who cannot afford them.
A year ago or more an Eighteen year old kid took a twenty six pound frozen turkey and hurled it from a moving car into the windshield of an on coming car and almost killed the driver of that oncoming car. That was an act of stupidity that called for prosecution. Hurling twenty six pounds of any frozen material can only have one end, damage. That is different than tossing a Three ounce egg five to ten feet. Eggs are supposed to crack and this one did. Frozen turkeys don't crack, they are hard as rock. There is a difference and legal professionals are supposed to comprehend that difference and explain it to angry parents or victims. I guess the combination of rich victims and flashbulbs was too much for the powers that be to deal with. They needed that 1.5 minutes of fame. Too bad they had to ruin a girls life to get it.
EDITED 7/16/08: To exclude the name of the kid that received immunity from prosecution. I still think what he did (seeking to minimize his role and taking immunity from prosecution while still being morally responsible for the actions thus allowing his friends to "take the weight") is dispicable, but he is about to enter adulthood and I suppose that he should no longer bear the scares of this case nor of his actions taken while a scared kid. A dear friend of mine asked that I remove it, on behalf of the boy, so Rick, this is the ONLY time I will do this, but this one is for you.