I caught this headline from WPXI the other day: It seems that Gene Peck -- son of common pleas court candidate Michelle Zappala Peck, and nephew of District Attorney Stephen Zappala -- is facing charges for arson.
The fire was minor, no one was hurt, and Gene Peck (who works as a volunteer firefighter) helped put out the blaze. Also, his family says he suffers from mental illness. So let's hope he gets the help he needs, and that the justice system provides the fairness he deserves.
That said, this strikes me as a pivotal point in the history of our local justice system. The county's lead prosecutor is a Zappala. It's likely that after tomorrow's primary election, one of the county's judges will be a Zappala too. A federal appeals-court judge, Tom Hardiman, is already related to the Zappalas by marriage. And a Zappala runs a juvenile detention center outside the county, a facility much in the headlines lately.
Now, it seems, the Zappala family is providing not just law-enforcement officers, trial judges and appellate judges ... they've begun furnishing us with suspects too. Which means that the Zappalas are on the verge of being able to run an entire justice system without involving anyone else. If things go on like this, they'll just be able to sit around and judge each other.
Granted, that sounds like what my family does during the holidays. The difference is, we don't get taxpayer money for the purpose.