Friday, September 5, 2008

Wecht - New Trial Allowed, But New Eyes to Oversee

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in the Cyril Wecht case refusing to accept the defense double jeopardy argument, but using its supervisory powers to provide for a new judge to hear the case.  The court stated:

"Our holding today that there is no constitutional bar to retrying Dr. Wecht does not stand for the proposition that he must be retried. That is a decision that rests with the Government. Indeed, Wecht’s prosecution is one that already has spanned more than thirty months. It has resulted in numerous appeals and emergency motions to this Court and, with the filing of this opinion, three lengthy precedential opinions.

If the Government chooses to proceed with a retrial, our view is that both sides and the interest of justice would benefit from a reduced level of rancor in the courtroom, fresh eyes on the case, and fewer forays to this Court by the parties, including intervening parties. This has been a highly charged, lengthy, and complex case involving serious criminal charges brought against a prominent public figure. The trial judge has been the referee in a heavyweight fight, and, as we have ruled, has generally made the correct calls, with some exceptions."


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