After Grace Jabbari, the ex-girlfriend of Jonathan Majors who accused the actor of assaulting her on March 25, was arrested Wednesday, some parties involved are not sure why it happened, given the knowledge that no charges would be filed against her, while one outside expert points to it as a “publicity stunt.”
Meanwhile, Majors, through an attorney, called the DA’s decision not to prosecute Jabbari and to continue the case against him “a serious injustice.”
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Jabbari surrendered for arrest at the 10th precinct in Manhattan on Wednesday on suspicion of misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor criminal mischief. The arrest occurred in relation to a cross complaint Majors had filed against her in June. Majors faces misdemeanor charges of harassment and assault in his own case, which is scheduled to go to trial Nov. 29.
After the cross complaint was filed, an investigatory card, or I-Card, which is an internal NYPD document alerting officers that there is probable cause for an arrest, was issued for Jabbari in late June.
However, in court documents related to the Majors case, after prosecutors learned of the I-Card, they say they informed the NYPD on Sept. 8 and Sept. 12 that “the People would decline to prosecute any charges brought by the NYPD against Ms. Jabbari related to the belated allegations made by the defendant regarding the incident on March 25.” This was also disclosed to the defense counsel in Majors case on Sept. 26 and to Jabbari’s attorney on Sept. 21.
On Thursday, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said it “officially declined to prosecute the case against Grace Jabbari because it lacks prosecutorial merit.” And the case was closed and sealed.
Ross Kramer, the attorney representing Jabbari, who accompanied her to the station, said he still is not clear on the rationale behind the events.
“We have not gotten a good answer from the NYPD about why they felt that they had to carry out that arrest,” Kramer said.
Kramer added that he and Jabbari spent about 90 minutes at the station Wednesday, starting at 6 p.m. ET, as the NYPD filled out paperwork for a desk appearance ticket, which directed her to return to court at a future date to be arraigned. That date is now void after the state said it would decline to proceed on the charges.
The two were aware of the impending arrest and made an arrangement to surrender when Jabbari, who is a U.K. citizen, returned to the U.S. for reasons he said were unrelated to testifying in the Majors trial. The understanding was that it would be dismissed and sealed by the D.A.’s office the next day, Kramer said.
“It’s unfortunate that someone who’s a survivor of domestic violence has to be treated like a perpetrator, has to spend an hour and a half at a police precinct for absolutely no reason. But Grace is a very strong and resilient person and she was able to put it behind her and now she’s gonna move on,” he said.
A spokesperson for the NYPD declined to comment on the reason for the arrest, other than to confirm the arrest and that Jabbari self-surrendered.
Dustin Pusch, a civil attorney for Jonathan Majors, released a statement Thursday on behalf of his client claiming that the DA “unilaterally and without explanation has decided not to prosecute Ms. Jabbari for her misdeeds.”
“While Mr. Majors is thankful that the NYPD corroborated his account, it is a serious injustice that the District Attorney continues to move forward with its case against him. These recent revelations raise grave questions about the impartiality and transparency of the prosecutors’ discretion, due process, and equal protection under the law,” the statement reads.
However, Cary London, a Manhattan-based civil rights and criminal defense attorney at Shulman & Hill, said he views the fact that the NYPD took the complaint from Majors in June, after the incident occurred in March, and generated an I-Card for Jabbari as highly unusual and it seems like it could be a “publicity stunt.”
“The arrest of Ms. Jabbari is a complete publicity stunt by the Defense Team behind Mr. Majors. In a domestic violence case, the NYPD will usually never make an arrest of the Complaining Witness, Ms. Jabbari, because it is viewed as retaliatory,” he said.
The arrest cannot be brought up as part of the cross-examination of Jabbari at trial, he added, meaning this will have “zero legal effect.”
Typically in domestic violence cases, he said, the NYPD would arrest both parties on the date of the incident, if warranted, rather than later arrest the complaining witness. The arrest itself occurred because once an I-Card for a suspect is activated, he said the only way to close it out is to move forward with the arrest.
The defense team, led by attorney Priya Chaudry, declined to comment on the matter. A spokesperson for the firm said she was unavailable to respond to the allegations of a publicity stunt.
While tensions may not be at the highest they’ve been, London noted that the arrest comes amid some disconnect between the DA and the NYPD, including a recent case in which Alvin L. Bragg, Manhattan’s district attorney, has said that his office will pursue charges against police officer Juan Perez, who reportedly punched an emotionally disturbed man while on patrol.
Mitch Schuster, chair of the litigation department at the Manhattan-based firm Meister, Seelig & Fein, added that the DA has wide discretion when it comes to whether or not to prosecute a case, “including the complainant’s credibility, the extent of evidence, and whether bringing a case is an effective use of judicial resources,” while the NYPD will make an arrest if a suspect is identified and there is probable cause to believe the person committed the crime.
“Because of the discretion afforded to prosecutors, these decisions may not always correspond with one another,” wrote Schuster in an email to THR.
The DA’s office did not comment for this article, but prosecutors had said in previous filings related to Majors’ case that the NYPD had informed defense counsel of the I-Card for Jabbari on June 23, but did not tell the DA’s office about that communication until Sept. 14. Further, the filings state that the DA’s office did not learn about the I-Card until Aug. 30, after several emails to the NYPD.
Prosecution had attempted to craft a protective order “to prevent the tainting of a future jury pool, avoid witness intimidation, and ensure witnesses’ safety” after they say the defense team had leaked evidence and made statements to the press. A joint proposal, made in consultation with the defense, was submitted to the court, but denied by a judge on July 31.
In September, Chaudry’s team had filed a motion to dismiss the case against Majors in its entirety, on claims of the prosecutors burying evidence, including the existence of the I-Card, in discovery. However, a judge denied the motion to dismiss in court Wednesday, hours before Jabbari’s arrest.
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