The sounds emanating from the U.S. Attorneys Office in Pittsburgh this week were more nails being pounded into the coffin of the Cyril Wecht prosecution. No doubt realizing that the efforts of the last two years in the office were going down the drain, it was announce that Stephen Stallings, the lead prosecutor, is leaving the office to return to private practice. Stallings, as you might recall is the zealot who immediately announced, following the declaration of a mistrial, that his office would prosecute the case again. Since trial began in this case, it has become more and more apparent that this case had no business being prosecuted in federal court.
- Jurors expressed the view that this case was politically motivated;
- Congress is investigating whether the case is politically motivated; and
- The Third Circuit issued a stay so that Stallings’ attempted retrial could not take place immediately following the declaration of the mistrial, and oral arguments are scheduled before the Third Circuit on July 25.
My take is, however, that as long as U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan stays in office in the Western District of Pennsylvania that this case is at peril of being resurrected. She simply can’t afford to have fresh eyes look at this case and make the decision to put this case where it belongs – the trash bin.
Stallings can enter private practice comforted by the fact that the last two years of his practice in the Department of Justice court were marred by his myopic pursuit of a case that should have never been brought!