“Clearly, the 17th juror was not eligible to be present at the grand-jury deliberations or to vote,” Main wrote, adding that he couldn’t tell if that person’s participation “was harmless or influential upon the vote.”
He dismissed the case but left the door open for District Attorney Derek Champagne to present evidence to a different grand jury.
But the DA isn’t sure he will move forward with prosecution.
“I’m on hold right now,” he said, adding that he plans to meet soon with defense attorneys Lorraine White, who is a former chief of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, and Brian Barrett of Lake Placid.
Having unresolved land-claims issues hanging over the case makes Champagne’s job a little more difficult and may mean walking away from prosecuting Jock.
“The biggest problem is the allocation of resources,” he said.
The DA said he’d likely have to assign three or four attorneys to such a complicated case — land claims have been in a legal tangle since 1982, when the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe sued New York state in federal court over the boundary lines of the reservation at Akwesasne.
The DA noted that it would take prosecutors’ time away from local cases such as burglaries, child abuse and rape.
Champagne said it wouldn’t be the first time this issue has posed a problem for his office in the past few years.
He has decided against extradition in a few cases because it would have cost too much to have the person brought back to Franklin County to face charges.
“It’s not our preferred method, obviously, but I have to think of the taxpayers of this county when I weigh a criminal prosecution,” the DA said.
White and Barrett had hoped another federal case involving the reservation-boundary lines could have been used to bolster the Jock case. But a federal appeals court recently overturned a lower-court ruling in a marijuana-smuggling case that they had cited.