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article imageJustice Dept. Seeks To Void Former Sen. Ted Stevens' Conviction

By Johnny Simpson     Apr 1, 2009 in Politics
In a recent article by NPR now posted on Drudge, the Justice Department asked a federal judge to drop all charges against Stevens due to prosecutorial misconduct. No new trial is sought. Stevens was convicted by a jury of seven counts of lying last fall.
From NPR, via Drudge:
The Justice Department on Wednesday asked a federal judge to drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.
"After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial," (Attorney General) Holder said in a statement Wednesday.
"In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial."
U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan set an April 7 hearing on the motion to dismiss the case.
There has been a great deal of controversy of late surrounding former Alaska Senator Stevens' trial and conviction. Sentencing has been repeatedly delayed. Last month, charges of prosecutorial misconduct stemmed from an FBI whistleblower's complaints of misconduct by fellow agents and prosecutors, including the withholding of key evidence from the defense.
Attorney General Eric Holder, who began his career in Justice's Public Integrity Section, was said by sources to be horrified and appalled at the failure of prosecutors to turn over all relevant materials to the defense. AG Holder is also quite familiar with the Stevens trial judge, Emmett Sullivan, the two having served together as D.C. Superior Court judges:
Holder respects Judge Sullivan and reportedly has watched with growing alarm as the judge repeatedly has scolded prosecutors for failing to follow his judicial orders to fully inform defense lawyers about everything from potentially favorable evidence to the travel plans of witnesses. During the trial, prosecutors' missteps led the judge to instruct the jury to disregard some evidence.
At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. Things got so bad that the Justice Department finally replaced the trial team, including top-ranking officials in the Public Integrity Section, which is charged with prosecuting public corruption cases.
According to sources, Attorney General Holder also based his decision on Steven's advanced age of 85, and the fact he is no longer in the Senate. Even Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), who defeated Stevens in the November election, called the decision to end Stevens' prosecution "reasonable":
"I always said I didn't think Sen. Stevens should serve time in jail and hopefully this decision ensures that is the case," Begich said. "It's time for Sen. Stevens, his family and Alaskans to move on and put this behind us."
Stevens was convicted in a jury trial last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form, in order to conceal $250,000.00 in gifts from oil industry execs and other friends. Steven's lawyers, Brendan Sullivan and Robert Cary, called the case "a sad story and a warning to everyone. Any citizen can be convicted if prosecutors are hell-bent on ignoring the Constitution and willing to present false evidence."
More about NPR, Ted stevens, Justice department, Eric holder, Alaska
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