It's a brittle and gray Sunday morning. The fireplace is fired up and coffee brewed, and one reflexively reaches for the sports section to read Ed Bouchette on the Steelers . . . BUT WAIT. There's a letter to the editor from Cyril Wecht!
Wecht is the heavyweight champion of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette letter writers, so we couldn't wait to see his thoughts on the Orie trial and his nemesis (one of many for the ex-coroner) Stephen Zappala (below right) the county DA. Wecht scolds Judge Jeffrey Manning for saying in open court that defense evidence was doctored, and naturally impugns the DA's motives in the matter. Here's the best part:
Judge Jeffrey Manning's vitriolic comments, delivered in such an accusatory manner, may prove to be accurate. However, he is not a trained questioned document examiner, nor does his judicial post empower him to make a final ruling before all the evidence has been presented. He should be disqualified as the presiding judge in any further case involving the Ories. He has unquestionably poisoned any future jury pool.
Inasmuch as both the district attorney and Judge Manning had ample opportunity to inspect all the evidentiary documents before the trial ended, one must question why this challenge was not made before jury deliberations began. Several astute legal observers have suggested that the district attorney was concerned about the verdict. Just imagine what an acquittal -- or even a hung jury -- would have meant to Steve Zappala's real objective and ultimate goal, namely, the prosecution of Justice Joan Orie Melvin.
That is what the Orie case is all about.
CYRIL H. WECHT, M.D., J.D.
Just because we can, here's Brian O'Neill in 2007 relating one of Wecht's greatest hits, written to a soul who publicly criticized the coroner on the P-G's letter page:
The epitome of Wecht's epistles went to Keith Sueker, of Penn Hills, seven years ago. After Mr. Sueker wrote a letter to the PG critical of the coroner, Dr. Wecht wrote to Mr. Sueker on Allegheny County stationery thusly:
"When I am testifying as an expert witness in major cases around the country; appearing on national television and radio shows; lecturing at major universities; writing books; accepting honors and accolades from various organizations; and making a hell of a lot of money, I have found I am able to enhance and sustain the substantial pleasures and great joy that accompany such endeavors and accomplishments by thinking of insignificant assholes like you.''
Top photo: Cyril Wecht and wife Sigrid after federal charges are dropped in 2009. Michael Henninger/PG