House panel subpoenas Wecht prosecution documents
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The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena to the Department of Justice, directing Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to produce a wide array of documents, including a vast array of paperwork involving the department's decision to prosecute former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht.
The 11-page letter directs Mr. Mukasey to produce documents and electronic information related to six different areas of concern, including the identification of CIA agent Valerie Plame, by July 7 at 2 p.m.
"Although the Committee seeks to obtain information necessary for its oversight responsibilities cooperatively whenever possible, utilizing subpoenas as a last resort, we have concluded that a subpoena is warranted in this instance in light of our many prior requests for these documents," the letter said.
Chairman John Conyers Jr. is seeking information on selective prosecution, specifically related to the cases involving Dr. Wecht and former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
The committee has asked Mr. Mukasey to present indictment reviews and memoranda, witness immunity agreements, exculpatory filings, FBI interview notes and case notes on both cases. In addition, Mr. Conyers has asked for information involving any contact between jurors and any Wecht prosecution team member and notes related to the possible empanelment or continuation of grand jury testimony in either case.
Dr. Wecht was charged initially with 84 counts in which the government contended he used his public office to gain financially through his private business.
However, the government dismissed 43 of those counts weeks before the trial began in January. In April, a mistrial was declared when the jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.
U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab scheduled an almost immediate retrial; however, the defense appealed to the 3rd U.S. District Court of Appeals. The case was accepted, and a three-judge panel will hear the case later this year.
First Published June 30, 2008 3:05 pm