DA Zappala criticizes US Lawyer Brady over Tree of Life case, federal curiosity in some Pittsburgh protest-related instances

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DA Zappala criticizes US Attorney Brady over Tree of Life case, federal interest in some Pittsburgh protest-related cases

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala is evoking the October 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue mass shooting case as he criticizes U.S. Attorney Scott Brady for Brady’s interest in prosecuting some Pittsburgh protesters.”DA Zappala is unclear why the U.S. attorney would want to focus on local protest cases when a more pertinent matter such as Tree of Life shooting suspect Robert Bowers is seemingly not close to receiving a disposition nearly 2 years after his horrific actions,” DA’s office spokesman Mike Manko wrote in an email to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.Brady is not commenting on the pending trial for Bowers, against whom the Justice Department has said it will seek the death penalty. Court records in the Tree of Life case show delays in Bowers’ trial stem from defense requests granted by the judge but opposed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors have written to the court about their position multiple times.”The victims of this crime, as well as the general public, are entitled to a resolution of these charges in a timely manner,” they wrote in one court filing, noting “The public and the victims are entitled to trial without unreasonable delay.” They wrote on another occasion, “Defense counsel appear to have adopted a strategy of intentional delay and obfuscation.”In a Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 interview Tuesday about incidents involving some protesters in downtown Pittsburgh last Saturday, Brady said: “We want to be working together with Pittsburgh Police, supporting them, giving them resources. If there’s a case that violates federal law, that rises to our level, then rest assured we will be prosecuting it.”Following Brady’s comments and in response to a Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 request for comment, the DA’s office emailed: “The overwhelming majority of the charges lodged in connection with the recent marches could have been and should have been charged via summons.”Zappala, through Manko, declined an interview request.Informed of the comments from the DA’s office comments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office provided its own.”The U.S. Department of Justice will continue to partner with the FBI, ATF and Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to aggressively investigate and prosecute violent crime committed under the guise of protest, as we have done since May 30th. Our goal—here and in every investigation—is to keep the people of western Pennsylvania safe,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote. The emailed statement from the DA’s office said that in 2005, Zappala petitioned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to amend a rule in state criminal court procedures “to expand the number of low level crimes that can be charged via summons.”Manko wrote: “That process gives the public defender and the defense bar plenty of time to bring to our attention and the attention of the court, any matters involving substance abuse or mental health issues that would allow us to expedite a proper disposition of those charges.”

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala is evoking the October 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue mass shooting case as he criticizes U.S. Attorney Scott Brady for Brady’s interest in prosecuting some Pittsburgh protesters.

“DA Zappala is unclear why the U.S. attorney would want to focus on local protest cases when a more pertinent matter such as Tree of Life shooting suspect Robert Bowers is seemingly not close to receiving a disposition nearly 2 years after his horrific actions,” DA’s office spokesman Mike Manko wrote in an email to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.

Brady is not commenting on the pending trial for Bowers, against whom the Justice Department has said it will seek the death penalty. Court records in the Tree of Life case show delays in Bowers’ trial stem from defense requests granted by the judge but opposed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors have written to the court about their position multiple times.

“The victims of this crime, as well as the general public, are entitled to a resolution of these charges in a timely manner,” they wrote in one court filing, noting “The public and the victims are entitled to trial without unreasonable delay.” They wrote on another occasion, “Defense counsel appear to have adopted a strategy of intentional delay and obfuscation.”

In a Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 interview Tuesday about incidents involving some protesters in downtown Pittsburgh last Saturday, Brady said: “We want to be working together with Pittsburgh Police, supporting them, giving them resources. If there’s a case that violates federal law, that rises to our level, then rest assured we will be prosecuting it.”

Following Brady’s comments and in response to a Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 request for comment, the DA’s office emailed: “The overwhelming majority of the charges lodged in connection with the recent marches could have been and should have been charged via summons.”

Zappala, through Manko, declined an interview request.

Informed of the comments from the DA’s office comments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office provided its own.

“The U.S. Department of Justice will continue to partner with the FBI, ATF and Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to aggressively investigate and prosecute violent crime committed under the guise of protest, as we have done since May 30th. Our goal—here and in every investigation—is to keep the people of western Pennsylvania safe,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote.

The emailed statement from the DA’s office said that in 2005, Zappala petitioned the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to amend a rule in state criminal court procedures “to expand the number of low level crimes that can be charged via summons.”

Manko wrote: “That process gives the public defender and the defense bar plenty of time to bring to our attention and the attention of the court, any matters involving substance abuse or mental health issues that would allow us to expedite a proper disposition of those charges.”