On the eve of today's hearing in the Wecht case, Channel 4 Action News reporter Shannon Perrine e-mailed to me a reminder that today is Doctor Cyril Wecht's 78th birthday.
Sure enough, here's my entry for this date a year ago, when the jury from the first Wecht trial was deliberating:
Wecht Trial Day 27 - March 20, 2008: Jury Watch Day 3
8:30 AM Today is Dr. Cyril Wecht's birthday. The defendant turned 77 today, as the jury entered its third day of deliberations in his federal trial on mail and wire fraud and theft of services charges.
10:00 AM We're halfway through the thirteenth hour of deliberations. So far today, there have been no questions from the jury for the judge.
1:00 PM The Wecht jury has now deliberated a total of 15 1/2 hours over the course of three days. If there is no verdict within the next 45 minutes, Judge Arthur Schwab will bring the jury into the courtroom to remind them of his instructions before they leave for the day at 2:00 PM.
While we're looking back, here's a link to my Busman's Holiday blog posts tracking the Wecht case... and a link to my blogging from the courtroom during the first trial for WTAE's The Pittsburgh Channel website.
The former Allegheny County Coroner is accused of fraud and using that public office to benefit his private consulting business. The first trial ended in a mistrial, with the jury deadlocked. This was the scene leading up to that announcement:
Wecht Trial Day 35 - April 8, 2008
8:29 AM The judge's bailiff just came from the direction of the jury room; she just locked the courtroom doors and is headed for the judge's office carrying a blue envelope and a sheet of paper. That doesn't necessarily mean there's a development... but there could be.
I estimate the jurors are in their 53rd hour of discussion on their eleventh day working day of deliberations. This is their fourth calendar week of deliberating, which they began on March 18.
This is the 35th working day of the trial and the 72nd calendar day since the trial began on Jan. 28.
8:40 AM As the bailiff just passed in the hallway, I asked her if there was anything new to look for on the court's electronic filing system ECF. Her answer was "no."
9 AM Judge Schwab's office just e-mailed the following notice to reporters:
"USA v. Wecht 06cr26 - - Time of Announcement of Verdict"
This afternoon, Erie federal court Judge Sean McLaughlin wants to hear still more arguments from both sides on defense motions to reconsider past rulings by the judge who presided over the first trial.
As I've noted before, this is significant because it suggests Judge McLaughlin is seriously considering the defense motions to toss out most or all of the government's case.
While the judge will be in Erie, the prosecution and defense will make their arguments via videoconference from a courtroom here in Pittsburgh. Judge McLaughlin has yet to rule on a prosecution motion to move any retrial from Pittsburgh to Erie.