The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that on Feb. 17, Allegheny County Police homicide detectives submitted three separate requests for a warrant that went unsigned for Calvin Crew, which delayed his arrest by three hours. Crew is the alleged killer of Christina Spiccuzi, who was working as an Uber driver at the time of her murder.
According to KDKA, sources say “county police electronically sent [Pappas] the arrest warrant for Crew at 3:10 p.m. Pappas’ shift was scheduled to end at 5 p.m., and sources say he left the bench at 5:30 p.m. without reviewing the paperwork. Another judge who came on at 6 p.m. signed off on the warrant at 7:14 p.m., and detectives immediately moved in to arrest Crew.”
In a statement issued Feb. 23, District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.'s office criticized Pappas, writing, “The decision, behavior and attitude of this magistrate with respect to this warrant is extremely concerning and troubling. It is completely unacceptable that after DA Zappala directed three sets of detectives to monitor three different locations, they were kept waiting for hours because this magistrate failed to carry out his duty as a member of the bench with respect to the apprehension of a very dangerous suspect."
Pappas maintains that he was not given the warrant to sign.
“I would have dropped everything that I was doing to look at it,” Pappas told the Trib. “I never was presented with this warrant. Nobody came to me and said, ‘Judge, we have this specific warrant in urgent need of immediate review.’”
Mike Manko, a spokesman for DA Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said Zappala was “looking at additional issues” involving the district judge, according to the Trib. “This individual is employed by the courts, and the courts have a standing obligation to review complaints concerning how a judge discharges his or her official duties. That said, our office is looking at additional issues concerning this individual.”
“What is perhaps most troubling here,” Pappas tweeted in criticism on March 2 of the DA’s statements on this matter, “is that the DA's office proffers this narrative in its statement, referencing a ‘decision’ I never made, ‘behavior’ it could not have confirmed, and an ‘attitude’ I could have never had. Pure fantasy. Sad and irresponsible.”
The Alliance for Police Accountability released a statement on March 2 supporting Pappas’ contention that the DA’s office is abusing its power to attempt to intimidate him.
“The Alliance for Police Accountability stands in solidarity with Judge Mik Pappas against yet another baseless, defamatory attack clearly designed to undermine the important work he is doing to reform our criminal legal system and ensure fair justice for all,” reads the statement. “Judge Pappas has been a leader in the effort to eliminate cash bail, end mass incarceration, to prioritize care for affected communities, and to stop punishing poverty,” the statement continues. “It is clear this latest attack on his character is a blatant abuse of the District Attorney’s power, and a politically motivated attempt to intimidate not only Judge Pappas but the entire movement to create a more humane criminal legal system in Allegheny County.”
Pittsburgh City Paper reached out to Zappalas’ office for comment and will update this story if they respond.
“The DA’s office is invested with immense power, resources, and technology for the purpose of prosecuting crime. When they use that power to instead attack progressive reformers they violate the public’s trust and jeopardize public safety,” The Alliance for Police Accountability says in their statement. “Everyone who supports equal justice should stand in solidarity with Judge Pappas and let the police and DA know we will not be intimidated.”