COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Lawyers for former Bears No. 1 pick David Terrell, who is facing drug dealing charges in Chicago, say prosecutors presented zero evidence against him before a grand jury, yet got an indictment anyway.
Terrell was in court on the case Friday, but had little to say about any evidence against him. He did, however, give a shout out to his alma mater.
"Go Blue!" he said in salute to the University of Michigan, where he was a star.
He also gave some publicity to his defense attorney, saying after being hit with the drug charges in August, he got advice where to turn.
"When I got into it, I heard you got to call Goldberg," he told DNAinfo Chicago.
So he did, hiring local defense attorney Stuart Goldberg, who smiled broadly at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse Friday after getting the former NFL player's endorsement. The two also exchanged a fist bump.
Terrell, the Bears' top pick in the 2001 draft, was hit with felony drug charges after being arrested in Bronzeville. He was indicted by the grand jury in September.
But Goldberg claims prosecutors "don't have a shred of evidence" against Terrell and that the former wide receiver is the victim of the state's "antiquated and obsolete" grand jury system. In a legal motion, Goldberg claimed a grand juror told prosecutors they didn't even mention Terrell in their secret grand jury case.
"The grand jury would indict a duck for swimming," Goldberg said.
Alleging that the grand jury — a system established to determine whether the state has grounds to charge individuals before criminal cases go to trial — is little more than a rubber stamp for the Cook County state’s attorney, Goldberg has called on a judge to dismiss Terrell's case.
According to a motion filed by Goldberg, Terrell was called before a grand jury on Sept. 13, when the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office asked jurors to approve a criminal indictment against the former player for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
Police said Terrell was arrested when they responded to reports of three people smoking pot in an apartment building in the 3900 block of South Calumet Avenue in the afternoon on August 19, police said. There they found Terrell, two other men and marijuana "in plain view."
Prosecutors called the arresting officer to testify before the grand jury. The officer told jurors about recovering the drugs from the other two men but said nothing about Terrell or his alleged role in any drug deal, Goldberg's motion says.
The defendants are all charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute greater than 30 grams, but less than 500 grams of cannabis, a Class 3 offense.
After prosecutors made their case, jurors were asked if they had any questions, according to the motion. That's when one of them allegedly stood up and asked about Terrell.
“You talked about three people when you came in, but only talked about two,” the juror allegedly said, questioning the state’s case against the former Bears player, according to the motion.
The state failed to present “even a shred of evidence against my client,” Goldberg said.
Still, after deliberating for a short time, the grand jury indicted Terrell, essentially allowing for the criminal case against him to proceed.
Felony cases in Cook County are reviewed — either by grand jury or a judge in a preliminary hearing — to determine whether there is probable cause. In Terrell's case, the grand juror allegedly stated in court that he did not see evidence to support the drug charges against the former Bear and then turned around and indicted him, Goldberg said.
Prosecutors said in court on Friday that they "re-indicted" Terrell's case, meaning that they asked a second grand jury, comprised of a different group of people, to put its stamp of approval on the charges.
A spokeswoman for the Cook County State's Attorney declined to comment Friday about why prosecutors found it necessary to re-indict the case.
"The grand jury is supposed to function as a body of neighbors who aid the state in bringing criminals to justice while protecting the innocent from unjust accusations," Goldberg said.