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Ted Stevens' Corruption Charges Dismissed: Scrutiny Turns to Prosecutors

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on April 07, 2009 10:42 AM

CNN and TIME are reporting that U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has ordered the conviction of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens to be set aside. Now scrutiny is turning to prosecutors in the case, as the judge also ordered an investigation into their conduct. Stevens had been convicted of lying about gifts he received from wealthy friends, but it turns out that the evidence and witnesses in the case were not handled properly, to say the least. He then lost his reelection bid in October in a close fought battle with Democrat Mark Begich.

Although prosecutors have wide latitude in deciding when and whether to bring charges against an individual, as well as deciding what charges to bring, they still have to abide by rules requiring them to turn over evidence to a defendant's attorneys. This is particularly crucial in circumstances where the evidence at issue appears to be "exculpatory", or tending to prove the innocence, of a defendant.

In the Stevens case, not only was evidence wrongly withheld but witnesses were also mishandled by the prosecution, apparently to such an extent that Attorney General Eric Holder had no choice but to ask that the case be dismissed, indicating that Stevens did not receive a fair trial.

Judge Sullivan was not pleased, saying "In nearly 25 years on the bench, I've never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I've seen in this case". He initiated possible contempt proceedings against the DOJ team, appointing Henry Schulke to act as special prosecutor. Below are links to various documents and news stories in the case, which will be supplemented as more become available.

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