The Associated Press (AP) recently interviewed Prof. Richard Reuben about the action taken Thursday, Oct. 17, by Nodaway County, Mo., prosecutor Robert Rice. Rice’s March 2012 decision to drop charges against two teenage boys accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in Maryville, Mo., has created anything but silence in the media. As a result of continuous criticism and challenges to the integrity of the county’s prosecution system, Rice filed a motion for a judge-appointed special prosecutor to last year’s sexual assault case.
In his interview, Prof. Reuben explained why a prosecutor would call upon a special prosecutor to review a case: “The idea is really to have a third party who is removed from the process, who can bring the appearance of objectivity and neutrality. At the end of the day they would look like a prosecutor who is truly independent.”
Rice’s action to appoint a special prosecutor is anything but a flippant decision. According to Prof. Reuben, “A special prosecutor would investigate if there’s been a crime and would have the authority to bring charges.” As a result, a special prosecutor’s investigation could either support Rice’s decision to drop the charges based on a lack of evidence or challenge Rice’s authority as the county’s prosecutor and take the case to trial.