As covered in this earlier post, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan is urging the judge presiding over former Coroner Cyril Wecht's public corruption trial to throw Wecht's lawyers into jail and suspend them from practicing law in federal court.
She's accusing Mark Rush and Jerry McDevitt of having "repeatedly lied to the court, lied to the media, breached their ethical obligations as lawyers and flaunted the orders of this court.
Wecht's lawyers argue that if their talking to the media deserves punishment by the court, that the U.S. Attorney's office could be subject to the same thing. In their response to Buchanan, McDevitt and Rush tell the judge:
• "The Motion is baseless. It is a hatchet job that is not worthy of the United States Attorneys office. We respectfully request that it be denied in its entirety. "
• "The prosecution's initial media blitz put Dr. Wecht in a devastatingly negative light..."
"The Motion seems to be utterly blind to the fact that if defense counsel's statements are regarded as sanctionable, the Government and its representatives are surely subject to the same or greater sanctions in light of their own conduct" ... "and their eagerness to put this case in the media spotlight at the earliest possible moment." "...Dr. Wecht reserves the right to file a cross motion for sanctions as appropriate..."
They also write that the prosecutors:
• "...are not attempting to jail counsel for telling lies. They are attempting to do so because it is the truth they fear."
Former U.S. Attorney general Dick Thornburgh is a member of Wecht's defense team. He's filed an affidavit under oath backing up statements made by McDevitt and Rush to the PG that triggered Buchanan's motion. Thornburgh says Buchanan had wanted to have Wecht arrested because she claimed he was "a flight risk to Israel". He also swears he had to go over Buchanan's head to a Justice Department official in Washington in order to keep Wecht from facing a 'perp walk' before news cameras. Click the image below to read that page from his sworn statement.
The Post-Gazette has already posted Thornburgh's complete affidavit online.
Wecht's attorneys say their public comments are protected free speech. The U.S. Attorney's office had no comment Friday on the latest filing by Wecht's lawyers.