Where’s the apology, Mr. Zappala?

UPDATED: Because I have now been schooled on the fact that judges and juries ARE technically fact-finders.


Tony Norman wrote that he was outraged about what happened to Mr. Leffler. Tony Norman wrote that “heads should roll at the DA’s office.”

Guess what Tony Norman didn’t write?

Stephen Zappala’s name.

What the frickity hell, PG? Are you guys THAT afraid of the man?

There are only TWO places on the internet I can find that mention Stephen Zappala’s name alongside Mr. Leffler’s since he was vindicated and those two places are this blog and the Trib, who finally did today.

So I guess I need to take care of it for the rest of the internet: Stephen Zappala.  Stephen Zappala. Steve Zappala.  Steve-o.  Steverino.  Stephen Zappala ruined Anthony James Leffler’s reputation and has yet to apologize.  The only statement coming from his office is this one:

“The office believed that the videotape showed evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had engaged in endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment. We also believed that there was sufficient behavior on the videotape that made it prudent to take all the charges to a fact-finder,” Manko said.

Isn’t the DA supposed to be the freaking fact-finder? Judges and juries don’t find facts, they make judgments based on already-found facts.  The DA is the one that should have been hunting down the facts.  And I have a surefire way for them to find the facts next time.

Watch the damn tape.

And for good measure, so Google finds it … STEPHEN ZAPPALA ANTHONY JAMES LEFFLER.

I am SO on the list now. Meh.


  1. Mike
    April 16, 2010 12:23 pm

    Shouldn’t the tape be publicly available as part of the Open Records Act?

  2. efw_west
    April 16, 2010 12:38 pm

    unfortunately, this crap happens more often than not. Check out the story about the guy wrongfully targeted in the Anthrax attack several years ago. Never received an apology either, although he did get 5mil.


  3. ScareHouse Scott
    April 16, 2010 12:44 pm

    It’s like dealing with Lord Voldermort. One usually refers to him as “You-Know-Who” or “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”

  4. Christina
    April 16, 2010 12:49 pm

    Just want to point out that juries and judges (in the case of a non-jury trial) are the fact finders. They hear the competing sides’ versions of events and determine which is true; i.e., they the facts of the situation.

  5. Kathy
    April 16, 2010 12:53 pm

    If it’s a list most people don’t want to be on, then I, for one, am happy to be on it!! Yoo-hoo — Stevie, I am right here, so put me on your list too!!

  6. Jill
    April 16, 2010 12:57 pm

    Christina beat me to it – but by definition judges and juries are “fact finders”.

  7. Toad
    April 16, 2010 1:08 pm

    Ginny —

    I love your blog, and read it daily. But, you need to be careful on this one. Christina @ #4 is correct. In the legal sense, in a non-jury trial, a judge is considered the “finder of fact,” “fact-finder,” or “trier-of-fact;” in a jury trial, those titles belongs to the jury itself. In fact, our system of justice is based upon the concept that juries listen to evidence, decide what is fact and fiction (i.e., “find” facts), and then pass fate based upon that evidence that they regard as fact.

    Further, in the legal world, if you do not have evidence to put before a “fact-finder,” that means you don’t have a case to take to trial. It’s a term of art. Here, all the DA’s spokesperson was saying was the DA’s office felt that they have sufficient evidence to take the case to trial. Nothing more.

  8. Mike
    April 16, 2010 1:12 pm


    Thanks. What are the implications if the DA’s office clearly does not have evidence but take the cast to trial anyway? Are there legal or institutional implications? Or are they a bit more fuzzy?

  9. bluzdude
    April 16, 2010 1:21 pm

    Regardless of the technicalities, the DA should have at least determined whether there were sufficient “facts” to warrant bringing the case to trial. That they were this wrong about Mr. Leffler’s actions is beyond disturbing. It’s like the justice system as run by robots. Poorly programmed robots.

  10. Toad
    April 16, 2010 1:21 pm

    @ Mike –

    Yes, there can be implications. On the most basic level, the case can get thrown out, like Judge Cashman (I think is who the trial judge was) did here. The person who was prosecuted can also bring a civil suit for “wrongful prosecution,” but these are extremely difficult and, in many cases, cannot be brought against a government official.

    Institutionally, our DA’s are elected officials — one can always go the the ballot box and cast a vote.

  11. bucdaddy
    April 16, 2010 1:57 pm

    This kind of thing happens all the time, of course, or there would be no need for the Innocence Project at places like Point Park University. While I think they delve more into people wrongly convicted of murder, I imagine they’re having some discussion of this mess.

    I’ll also add:

    Atlanta Olympic Centennial Park bomber

    Duke lacrosse players

    as examples of overexuberant (i.e., stupid) prosecutions.

  12. Xena
    April 16, 2010 6:08 pm

    I don’t give a rat’s patootie who the official “finders of facts” are supposed to be. The DA should not bring charges when there is a freakin’ tape that shows no crime was committed. Sheesh. This is elementary.

    And I am so glad the “office believed” there was evidence to go forward. This is a new low in written PR-speak buckpassing. So Steve’s not just an Annoying Burgher who ruined a guy’s life, he’s got minions who think that we won’t notice that nobody over there is taking responsibility, nobody has the stones to put a name by that decision. Nice.

  13. Anna
    April 16, 2010 7:11 pm

    So, I guess it’s the lucky taxpayers who are paying the salaries of the DA and his crew while they watch or don’t watch tapes that show no crime.

    I vote, and I have a lonnnnggggg memory.

  14. Luke Steelerstahl
    April 16, 2010 9:22 pm

    Anna – no you don’t.

  15. Bojack
    April 17, 2010 7:56 am

    Just keep voting straight “D” !!


  16. Bojack
    April 17, 2010 2:55 pm

    I’m a firm believer in “an eye for an eye.”

    I say force DA Stephen Zappala to be on the receiving end
    of some not-so-gentle carnal knowledge. performed by a particularly well-endowed farm animal!