Tables Turn on Stevens Prosecutors
The U.S. attorneys who handled the government's corruption case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens are facing contempt proceedings for alleged misconduct.
U.S. District Judge Emmett G. Sullivan's decision to throw out the Stevens conviction comes less than a week after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that a Justice Department review of the case found that prosecutors withheld information from Stevens' defense team. Last week, Holder pledged an internal review of the case, but Sullivan has taken the unusual step of appointing an outside attorney to conduct an independent investigation.
"In nearly 25 years on the bench, I have never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I have seen in this case," Sullivan said. "Again and again, both before and during the trial in this case, the government was caught making false representations and not meeting its discovery obligations."
According to The Post's Del Quentin Wilber, Henry F. Schuelke III will probe the U.S. attorneys' handling of the case and issue a recommendation on whether they should be held in contempt. The attorneys -- William Welch II, Brenda Morris, Joseph Bottini, Nicholas Marsh, Edward Sullivan and James Goeke -- could face a fine or jail time if found in contempt.
In February, Sullivan held Welch, Morris and Patricia Stemler in contempt after the Justice Department lawyers admitted not having any reason to withhold documents from the defense.
"That was a court order," Sullivan said. "That wasn't a request. I didn't ask for them out of the kindness of your hearts. . . . Isn't the Department of Justice taking court orders seriously these days?"
Sullivan also said today that he will be referring a complaint of alleged misconduct by Robert Bundy, the Anchorage attorney who represented the government's star witness, to the U.S. attorney's office, according to a report by the Anchorage Daily News.
Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate before losing his seat to Democrat Mark Begich, just days after an Alaska jury found him guilty of failing to disclose $250,000 in gifts.
A jubilant Stevens emerged from Sullivan's courtroom this morning and referenced Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) when asked for his reaction to the news: "If I were Senator Byrd, I'd say 'Hallelujah!'"
By Amanda Zamora |
April 7, 2009; 5:10 PM ET
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