Should Joey Porter have faced stronger charges?

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There’s a common misconception that judges are the most powerful members of law enforcement in a given community. The reality is that prosecutors run the show.

Judges exercise authority only over the cases that are brought to them. Prosecutors decide who does and doesn’t end up before judges.

In Pittsburgh, for example, Allegheny County district attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr. decided to dramatically reduce criminal charges filed against Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter, only days after the team had placed Porter on leave due to a collection of allegations that included aggravated assault. After the reduction in charges, the Steelers promptly reinstated Porter, who resumed his duties during playoff games at Kansas City and New England.

It’s fair to ask whether Zappala properly exercised discretion regarding the decision to reduce Porter’s charges because, via the Associated Press, the Pittsburgh Police Citizens Review Board has concluded that video of Porter’s arrest supports the conclusion that Porter grabbed a police officer by the wrists, rendering him defenseless. That’s a critical finding because Title 18, Chapter 27, Section 2702 of the Pennsylvania Code provides that aggravated assault occurs if a person “attempts to cause of intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury” to a police officer” or “attempts by physical menace to put [a police officer] while in the performance of duty, in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.”

Zappala nevertheless decided that Porter didn’t engage in aggravated assault, concluding that the video didn’t support the charge. A spokesman for the D.A. said that the D.A. is “sticking by that assessment.”

It’s easy for Zappala to do that, because there’s typically no mechanism for challenging, scrutinizing, or reversing the decision of a prosecutor to exercise discretion in a way that results in charges not being pursued. And while there’s a broader political device for dealing with an elected prosecutor whose decisions don’t reflect the will of the people, most of the people who will be casting ballots in the next election are Pittsburgh Steelers fans.

24 responses to “Should Joey Porter have faced stronger charges?

  1. Police officers shouldn’t be a protected class. Probably shouldn’t be any protected classes, actually, but it’s absurd to codify an increased criminal charge based on the victim’s occupation. These are the same people who scream “stop resisting” to victims who are cuffed and motionless. I’m sure there’s a law somewhere that says breathing the same air s a police officer is assault. Are police these “snowflakes” I keep hearing about that want special rights?

  2. .
    The World’s Biggest Joke :

    The words “Equal Justice Under Law” which adorn the doorway leading to the US Supreme Court.

  3. I am far more concerned about Politicians abuses of the law than I ever will be about this stupid low level dumb act by a drunken sports person.

  4. Maybe you should, I don’t know, read the police report. From what I understand, a PLAIN-CLOTHED officer saw the altercation, and forced his way between Porter and the bouncer, yelling at Joey Porter. And the officer, standing 5’4″, only had his wrists grabbed by Porter? That shows some terrific restraint (pun) by Porter. If I were in an altercation and a dwarf showed up out of nowhere and began screaming at me, it’d probably be a midget toss. Just because you’re a cop, if you aren’t in uniform, it’s probably a reasonable expectation that one wouldn’t assume you were a cop.

  5. TB12RALLYCRY says:
    Jan 25, 2017 1:46 PM
    Yes he should have …including back when his dog killed a horse……..savage

    Where were you at when Chandler Jones had his little run in with the law last year? And every other patriot fan?

  6. dynastyfootballforme says:
    Jan 25, 2017 2:38 PM
    The irony is this type of (in)action is meant to keep voters on your side, but could destroy your credibility even faster.

    Likely to also damage a DA’s relationship with the police department (leading to cooperation issues?). OTOH, I am not in the legal field so maybe someone in that field can tell me I am wrong or right.

  7. jchipwood says:
    Jan 25, 2017 2:33 PM

    Where were you at when Chandler Jones had his little run in with the law last year? And every other patriot fan?

    You mean when he went to the police station seeking assistance and no laws were broken and no one was harmed?

  8. jchipwood says:
    Jan 25, 2017 2:33 PM
    TB12RALLYCRY says:
    Jan 25, 2017 1:46 PM
    Yes he should have …including back when his dog killed a horse……..savage

    Where were you at when Chandler Jones had his little run in with the law last year? And every other patriot fan?

    Pats handled it and traded Jones.

    Porter’s always been a hothead, as in last year’s game with Cincinnati

  9. We all know that police exaggerate charges during arrests for drunk annoying people with the full expectation that the charges will be dramatically reduced within a day or 2.

    Its a system that works fine and makes it easy for cops to get trouble makers off the street.

    The video indicates that exactly what happened here.

  10. Or maybe, just maybe, the DA read the entire police report AND talked to the cops and the other people involved, and made a decision based on ALL the evidence at his disposal instead of just going by video.

  11. With the DA favoring a Steelers player, I can only assume he works part time as an NFL referee and reacted accordingly

  12. One quick call from Rooney explaining that it’s the time of the year for the NFL playoffs, and just like that all the serious charges dropped.

  13. Rooney to Zappala: “Good work. Your season tickets are on the house this season.”

  14. Joey Porter should be charged with failing to coach. 36 points! Really?

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