Court delays Wecht's 2nd trial
An appeals court on Thursday agreed to delay the start of Dr. Cyril H. Wecht's second federal public corruption trial.
Jury selection was set to begin Monday until a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay to consider whether U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab erred in the way he declared a mistrial. Schwab dismissed the first jury April 8 after they said they were hopelessly deadlocked.
Judges D. Brooks Smith, D. Michael Fisher and Franklin S. Van Antwerpen unanimously agreed to postpone the retrial until they decide the appeal.
Wecht's lawyers contend Schwab improperly dismissed the jury and that a second trial would violate the former Allegheny County coroner's constitutional right not to be tried twice on the same offense.
"We're just grateful the 3rd Circuit has stayed the trial and is going to give consideration to our argument," said defense attorney Jerry McDevitt.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.
Wecht, 77, of Squirrel Hill is accused of using his public office for private gain. Jurors in his first trial could not agree on a verdict for any of the 41 counts of fraud and theft.
Prior to Wecht's original trial date in 2006, the 3rd Circuit issued a stay -- which lasted six months -- to consider several issues, including whether to remove Schwab from the case.
The appeals court ruled 2-1 to let Schwab remain on the case.
Schwab yesterday refused to step down from the case for a third time.
Another pending appeal, filed by local news outlets including the Tribune-Review, concerns whether Schwab properly followed an earlier appeals court ruling that he must release jurors' names.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.