In an open letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan today, more than two dozen Pennsylvania public figures urged that the Justice Department "reconsider the publicly announced decision to re-try De. Cryil Wecht." You can see the letter here
Among the signers are Melissa Hart, a former Republican congresswoman who lost reelection in 2006, Jerry Johnson, the U.S. Attorney for Pittsburgh during the Reagan administration, and both the former and current chair of the Republican Party in Allegheny County. The signers also include a number of members of the Allegheny county council and the Democratic former mayor of Pittsburgh, Tom Murphy. The Wecht case is based on allegations that Wecht misused county resources while serving as coroner there.
Given that the jury hung in the first trial and jurors have told the media
that most of them had agreed on acquittal, the signers agree that a second trial "would certainly not be in the interest of justice."
It's just the latest bit of pressure put on prosecutors. Reps. John Conyers
(D-MI) and Mike Doyle
(D-PA) have already expressed their concern that prosecutors used FBI agents to contact jurors who served on the case. Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, a Republican, also criticized
that decision. And that's on top of the scrutiny
the case has had for months.
Today, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports
that prosecutors are pondering shopping for an out-of-town jury for the retrial because of negative media coverage of the case.