A state Supreme Court justice today issued a show-cause order allowing Bernhard Hugo Goetz's attorneys to appear before him Tuesday to argue against prosecutors' efforts to submit the case to a new grand jury.
Justice Stephen Crane last Tuesday had authorized reopening the case, based on new evidence described by Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. But lawyers for Goetz, the so-called "subway vigilante" who in December shot four black youths, called the alleged evidence "a deception" in court papers filed today.
A grand jury in January refused to indict Goetz, 37, an engineer, on attempted-murder charges and instead indicted him for weapons possession. Goetz had been hailed in some quarters as a hero who acted in self-defense against a group of rowdy youths who allegedly tried to rob him. However, the relatively minor weapons charge, along with Goetz's subsequent remarks about the case, stirred a public backlash.
Morgenthau has said he has enough evidence to go before a new grand jury, and has hinted that the evidence consists of testimony by a new witness who was in the subway car during the shooting.
Morgenthau refused to grant immunity to any of the four youths in the first grand jury proceeding. One or more of them could decide to testify this time without immunity, or Morgenthau could change his mind and grant immunity.
A spokesman for Morgenthau said the judge's order is "a technicality" and that Crane, having authorized resubmission of the case this week, is unlikely to change his mind.