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Court bracing for media frenzy over Ramsey grand jury

By B.J. Plasket
Daily Times-Call

BOULDER -- With the term of the Ramsey grand jury due to expire in three weeks, public information and court officials continue to play a waiting game.

The yearlong term of the grand jury investigating the death of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey will expire at midnight on April 21, but even timetable is subject to change.

District Attorney Alex Hunter could ask for a six-month extension anytime before the expiration date by merely filing a motion that would almost certainly be granted.

While no one is saying when the grand jury will complete its work, the county commissioners last week gave Hunter's office another $62,000 to fund the grand jury through June.

Most of that money will go toward salaries of employees hired specifically for the Ramsey case, such as grand jury specialist Michael Kane and public information officer Suzanne Laurion.

Laurion on Tuesday said no special preparations are in place to handle the media crush expected to accompany the end of the grand jury's work. She and court administrator Bob Bernard both said they had no knowledge of rumors that extra phone lines were being installed at the Boulder County Justice Center to handle a media crush.

``I hadn't even heard that,'' Laurion said.

``That's the first I've heard of anything like that,'' Bernard said.

Laurion said public information officers from the county, the DA's office and city of Boulder met two weeks ago to make sure they are ready for the end of the grand jury probe, but that no specific plans were made.

``We are waiting for Alex Hunter and Mike Kane to give us direction regarding what we need to do to inform the public when the grand jury is finished,'' she said. ``They haven't approached us about it, but I'm sure they will when the time comes.''

Laurion said she ``doesn't read anything into'' the fact that Hunter has given her no timetable.

``I don't expect to know anything until it's time,'' she said. ``We are preparing to be prepared. Whatever they need from a communications standpoint, we are ready now.''