Alaska Politics Blog

This is the place to talk about Alaska politics, state, local, national. Public life in the Last Frontier has rarely been more interesting -- a full slate of federal and state elections, the influence of former Gov. Sarah Palin, the usual hardball Alaska politics. Come here for news, tidbits and information, and join the discussion. We encourage lively debate, but please keep it civil and stay on point. Don't use profanity, make crude comments or attack other posters. Posts that violate the Terms of Use will be deleted. Repeat offenders will lose their ability to post comments.

New Senate organization announced - 11/7/2012 12:48 pm

Homer Revealed - 8/22/2012 2:08 pm

Seven-day countdown - 5/25/2012 8:37 pm

Anchorage city clerk resigns (UPDATED) - 5/23/2012 10:51 am

Gara to seek re-election - 5/2/2012 2:04 pm

For one lawmaker: Good news - 4/27/2012 12:20 pm

Anticipation in the Capitol - 4/26/2012 11:38 am

Election Commission finds 1/2 of precincts ran out of ballots; recommends no investigation - 4/25/2012 5:08 pm

Stevens to AG: Investigate prosecutors (Updated with letter link)

From Erika Bolstad in Washington, D.C. --

The issue of misconduct on the part of Justice Department prosecutors has come up again in Sen. Ted Stevens' corruption trial, this time post-conviction. A day after Stevens was convicted on seven felony counts of lying on his Senate disclosure forms, his chief lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, sent a letter of complaint to Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Sullivan asks for the Justice Department to "commence a formal investigation into the repeated misconduct by federal prosecutors in connection with this case." They add that the trial was "irretrievably tainted by the prosecution team's zeal to convict a high-profile but innocent defendant." The Justice Department had no comment on the letter.

The accusations stem from three snags during the trial, the first when prosecutors sent home a deathly ill witness they decided not to use -- without telling the judge or the prosecution. Then, the judge ruled that prosecutors knew the hours that one witness said he worked on Stevens' house could be inaccurate and yet still presented it to the jury as part of the $188,000 total that Veco accounting records show the now-defunct oilfield-services company spent on the Stevens remodel. (There was never any evidence presented by the defense that showed Stevens ever paid Veco or its CEO Bill Allen, however.)

"It's very troubling that the government would utilize records the government knows were false," Judge Emmet Sullivan said at the time. "And there's just no excuse for that whatsoever."

Then, prosecutors fumbled and failed to turn over some other evidence that might have been helpful to Stevens' defense. The government is supposed to turn over such evidence, under a 1963 Supreme Court decision that requires prosecutors to let defense attorneys know when they turn up evidence that could help clear a defendant.

There's no question that prosecutors erred, in some cases very badly. But how much of Sullivan's letter to the attorney general is bluster? Sullivan, considered one of the best criminal defense attorneys in Washington, D.C., at times had a team of 10 to 12 lawyers in the courtroom during the trial. Neil A. Lewis of the New York Times noted during the trial that Sullivan's legal team is known for a strategy of aggressively holding prosecutors' feet to the fire on disclosure. Sometimes, it's to the point of getting scolded by judges themselves. In filings by the Justice Department in Stevens' case, Lewis noted that Sullivan "and his team of lawyers had been admonished in 2006 by a federal judge in Connecticut for making unsupported claims in that case that prosecutors had engaged in misconduct."

© Copyright 2011, The Anchorage Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service