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Judge tosses out Stevens conviction

Published:

Judge tosses out Stevens conviction

Prosecutors acknowledged mishandling the former senator's case
The Associated Press
updated 12:08 p.m. ET, Tues., April. 7, 2009

WASHINGTON - A federal judge dismissed the corruption conviction of former Sen. Ted Stevens on Tuesday and took the rare and serious step of opening a criminal investigation into prosecutors who mishandled the case.

"In nearly 25 years on the bench, I've never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I've seen in this case," U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said.

Sullivan appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Justice Department lawyers who repeatedly mishandled witnesses and withheld evidence from defense attorneys during the monthlong trial that ended with Stevens' conviction in October.

The case cost Stevens a Senate seat he had held for 40 years. Once the Senate's longest-serving Republican, he narrowly lost to Democrat Mark Begich shortly after the verdict.

"Until recently, my faith in the criminal system, particularly the judicial system, was unwavering," Stevens told the court Tuesday, his first public comments since Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would drop the case. "But what some members of the prosecution team did nearly destroyed my faith. Their conduct had consequences for me that they will never realize and can never be reversed."

Sullivan appointed Washington attorney Henry Schuelke as a special prosecutor to investigate contempt and obstruction by the Justice Department team.

He said the matter was too serious to be left to an internal investigation by the department, which he said has dragged its feet looking into the misconduct.

In a criminal case, the prosecutors could face prison time and fines. The decision raises the question of whether the prosecutors, who include the top two officials in the department's public corruption unit, can remain on the job while under criminal investigation.

Entry #1,050

Comments

1.
JAP69Comment by JAP69 - April 7, 2009, 1:55 pm
How stupid can all these prosecutors be at the same time?
A convenient tial to sway the election.
2.
NBey6Comment by NBey6 - April 7, 2009, 3:48 pm
Looks like they're gonna pay the ultimate price too........job loss in tough times!! I doubt if this situation in Alaska had any effect on the outcome of the election. Most people already had their minds made up one way or the other, imho!!
3.
justxploringComment by justxploring - April 7, 2009, 11:38 pm
Jarasan - nobody ever said he was innocent, just that that there was prosecutorial misconduct.   The man is 85 years old and well liked.   Now he can leave his legacy and be proud, not rot in jail.   The facts are that he took lots of personal gifts and there was some question on some of the charges, not the majority of them. Anyway, for a Republican to complain about something fishy going on in elections is kind of ironic. I remember seeing a yellow Ryder truck drive by about 8 years ago, Chad. (Sorry....I mean, Jarasan)

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