Saturday, April 12, 2008

Subject: An Appeal for Justice

(Via Ed Sherry this email appeal from the son of noted coroner and JFK assassination critic Cyril Wecht, whose recent trial ended in a mistrial).

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Students,

As many of you know, the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Western Pennsylvania Tuesday announced its intention to re-try my father, former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht, on miscellaneous charges of "public corruption" immediately on the heels of U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab's declaration of a mistrial following the government's first such effort. The prosecutor not only wasted no time in doing so, but did not even take the customary and legally prudent step of polling the jurors to determine how they were split.

Without getting into my own thoughts on the original or ongoing motives for this prosecution, I feel it important to point out that this jury of my father's peers, following nearly two months of testimony by 44 prosecution witnesses, and despite the fact that the defense did not find it necessary to call any witnesses to the stand, were unable to return a guilty verdict on even a single count -- and this despite the fact that they'd extended their deliberations, under the judge's orders, far past the point of deadlock. By any reasonable standard, the case against my father would appear to lack substance at this point in time.

I'm writing to you as a son, as a Western Pennsylvanian, and as an American, to ask you to share your own opinions on this matter with the editors of our leading local daily newspapers, as well as with U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan herself. While Ms. Buchanan will not be easy to dissuade from her chosen course of action, there is reason to believe that, faced with ample public pressure, she will have no choice but to consider her office's alternatives. And in a society (and region) faced with the multiple blights of gang warfare, drug trafficking, child pornography and other criminal activities, there is no question she has some "alternatives" to pursue.

By contrast, if a second trial is permitted to proceed, as scheduled, on May 27, the costs to both my father (financial, professional and otherwise) and to the taxpayers of Western Pennsylvania (already conservatively estimated at over $200,000) will continue to climb.

If you have any thoughts on this matter, please make your voice heard by writing to one or more of the addresses listed below. The time to act is now, before new charges are filed.

On behalf of my father, my family, and the cause of justice, I thank you.


Ben Wecht

p.s. For those unfamiliar with the case, here are some pertinent links to recent news items:

Retry Wecht? No
Some jurors skeptical of case against Wecht
The Wecht case: pronounce it dead
It's over: There is no need for a second Wecht trial

Federal prosecutors have announced that they plan to retry Wecht on all 41 counts.

Judicial Committee Chairman John Conyers is disturbed by reports that the FBI has been interviewing jurors in the Wecht trial.

I am deeply troubled by reports of FBI agents contacting former jurors who failed to convict Dr. Wecht. Whether reckless or intended, it is simply common sense that such contacts can have a chilling effect on future juries in this and other cases. When added to the troubling conduct of this prosecution, there is the appearance of a win at all costs mentality. The committee continues to investigate this matter.
Sign a petition on behalf of Dr. Wecht.


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