Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Power of Nolle Prosequi

The day that Harlow Cuadra and Joe Kerekes arrived in Pennsylvania sporting shackles, Luzerne county DA David Lupas told reporters something quizzical. He said that he had not ruled out further arrests in the murder of Bryan Kocis.

The Cuadra/Kerekes partisans seized upon that statement almost as madly as did the anti-Lockhart/Roy forces. Why ever did Lupas say such a thing? Who is he really talking to? Was there a third man at the murder scene? Are Sean and Grant still in danger of prosecution?

That simple utterance certainly fires the imagination of the conspiracy-minded. Any number of possible scenarios flash before us to explain it, and while the well-trafficked ones are properly incendiary, others are more pedestrian.

Perhaps a reluctant witness needed a shove to start (or continue) cooperating. It’s conceivable that Lupas just misspoke; it happens, even in front of reporters, trust me. And at the edges of possibility (and, admittedly, slouching toward a TV reality): it could be that there’s a detective or investigator with an oddball theory of the crime who’s being humored.

Or maybe Lupas was just demonstrating the power of his office. In the weeks leading up to a criminal trial, the one person who has the most to say about a defendant’s fate is the DA.

The Legal Television Network explains.