Friday, July 11, 2008

Steve Stallings makes a move

FOB* Steve Stallings is leaving the U.S. Attorney's office (in Pittsburgh) and going into private practice. It's making news in Pittsburgh (see here and here):

The prosecutor who headed the federal public corruption cases against Dr. Cyril H. Wecht and the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office is crossing the aisle.
Thursday was the last day in the U.S. Attorney's Office for Stephen Stallings, who heads down Grant Street from the federal courthouse to go into private practice at Dreier, a law firm in the Koppers Building.
"Most of my career has been in private practice," said Stallings, 40. "And this was the right time for me and my family to make the return."
Stallings practiced civil law in south Florida before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami in 2001. He moved to Pittsburgh, his wife's hometown, in 2004.

*Friend of Blog


Rumpole said...

I'm a friend of Dr. Wecht's (hint?) and I know this guy is a friend of yours David, but that prosecution was politically motivated and a bunch of BS. The US Atty in Pgh is a Bush flackey and way way out of control.

Anonymous said...

Steve Stallings is an honest and fair prosecutor. I suspect that anyone who dealt with Steve in Miami would echo that comment.

Concerning the Wecht case, one may disagree with the quality of the evidence or, as a matter of discretion, whether the case should have been charged criminally. But to suggest Steve was motivated by politics in his pursuit of the case is baseless.

Rumpole said...

OK. So I'm baseless. I admit it. I also like things that appeal to my prurient interests. But I don't use the weight of the USA to prosecute innocent men. Anyone who knows anything about the Dr. Wecht case knows it was as big a piece of crap that's ever been brought in Federal Court.

Anonymous said...

Falling under the category of "[a]nyone who knows anything about the Dr. Wecht case," would certainly include the grand jury that returned a true bill, the trial court that denied the Rule 29 motions to dismiss, and the petit jurors who believed Dr. Wecht was guilty after hearing weeks of testimony. Those folks would appear to disagree with your assessment of the case. In the end, the case will most likely be retried, albeit without Mr. Stallings, and a jury will determine whether Dr. Wecht used public office for private gain.

Anonymous said...

Please. The long-standing joke about grand juries indicting ham sandwiches is long-standing for good reason. Successful MJOAs's in federal court are about as common as ice in hades; even rarer in high-profile prosecutions. Having reviewed the press coverage, I am prone to trust the judgment of the petit jurors voting not guilty. I couldn't agree more with Rumpole on this one.

Anonymous said...

The old and insulting yarn about grand juries, which demeans the important work citizens do throughout the United States day in and day out: very classy and classic. But untrue.

As for using press coverage as your metric for evaluating the merits of a case, that is another timeless gem of wisdom. (By the way, the majority of the hung jurors were for conviction. I know, an inconvenient fact.)

Anonymous said...

Gee, maybe the guys who believe so heartedly in the grand jury would be offended that the prosecution dismissed about half of the 80+ counts prior to trial. Guess Stallings doesn't give too much weight to grand jury findings.

Bellow is some additional info on the governments actions post hung jury -- do you think this guy had anything to do with this?

"Since the mistrial, jurors in the first case against Dr. Wecht have raised concern to reporters about FBI agents contacting them since the trial to schedule meetings with the US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. When the contact of the jurors by the FBI became public, Dr. Wecht's lawyers filed a motion requesting how the FBI, members of the prosecutor's team, were able to locate the jurors after the trial since the district judge in the case had ruled at the start of the trial that the jurors' names were not to be recorded by either the prosecution team or the defense team."

Anonymous said...

Dismissing counts to streamline a case before trial does not do an injustice to the work of a grand jury.

As for the "governments actions post hung jury," speaking with jurors following a hung jury is commonplace. What is not common is having your defense attorneys file a motion objecting to it while conducting similar interviews themselves, and incredibly, arranging for a post-trial baseball game get-together with the five former jurors in favor of acquittal, complete with a tailgate, reporters, and cameras.

Such conduct is a calculated attempt to influence future jury pools through the media. In other words, it is a not-so-subtle attempt to win the case in the press in order to influence the outcome in the courtroom. This is why using press coverage as your metric for determining the merit of a case is flawed: it is subject to manipulation by both the prosecution and the defense. Our system works; let the judge and jury evaluate the merit of the indictment and act accordingly.

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