Here are the notes for my 6 p.m. live report on WTAE Channel 4 Action News concerning the Wecht case ruling:
This can be a major blow to the government's case against former coroner Doctor Cyril Wecht.
It tosses out evidence gathered from two key search warrants in the government's case that Wecht used his public office for private gain.
Those searches -- of Wecht's private business offices on Penn Avenue and of an employee's laptop computer -- produced important evidence for the government's first trial. The jury in that trial could not reach a verdict after long deliberations.
Wecht was accused of having used the employees and resources of the coroner's office for the profit of his private consulting business. He was charged with mail and wire fraud in alleged false billing of private clients.
First reaction from U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan? She says:
"Our office will review the court's opinion and will determine the appropriate course of action."
No word on whether that could mean an appeal to a higher court.
In his decision, Judge Sean McLaughlin says:
"My ruling...suppressing a substantial portion of the government's evidence, is not undertaken lightly."
"(it's)...not based on...constitutional hair-splitting or a mere legal technicality ".
"These rulings are grounded in well-established 4th amendment principles... which serve as a bulwark against unwarranted government intrusion into the private affairs of every citizen, not just this defendant ".
[I'm hoping to offer a more detailed post on The judge's ruling tomorrow.]
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