Mary's Buggin'


You may remember her from such hits as "the persecution of Dr. Bernard Rottschaefer," "the first federal obscenity case in 20 years," and "the railroading of Tommy Chong."

Now it seems U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan may have finally stepped in it but good. This week, a federal jury hung on the 41 public corruption charges Buchanan brought against Pennsylvania medical examiner Dr. Cyril Wecht. A majority reportedly voted to acquit. This after a two-year investigation, a very sympathetic judge, and a bizarre trial in which the defense rested without calling a single witness. A loss or even a hung jury is rare for a U.S. attorney. Their conviction rate is over 95 percent.

Wecht's attorneys—including former GOP Attorney General Dick Thornberg—say the case was entirely driven by politics (Wecht is an outspoken Democrat). They point out that the trial itself cost about $200,000, while the total amount of money Wecht is alleged to have used from his public position to aid his private practice amounts to about $1,700.

In one post-trial interview, the jury foreman seemed to agree. The feds immediately announced plans to try Wecht again.

What I'm wondering is how the Department of Justice can see fit to spend two years and likely seven figures in taxpayer dollars to investigate a medical examiner for sending personal faxes on his publicly-owned machine, but thus far has seen no reason to look into Mississippi's Dr. Steven Hayne.

I've argued before that the real scandal with this Justice Department is not that it fired a bunch of prosecutors who didn't share the administration's priorities and political agenda. The real scandal is just how screwed-up those priorities and that agenda actually are.