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Archive for the ‘Senator Ted Stevens’ Category

>When Turnaround Is Fair Play: Prosecute the Prosecutors!

>by Don White
When federal prosecutors go wrong, someone’s got to set things straight. That’s just what a federal judge did when he cited a small Justice Department unit of apparent fraud and misconduct in prosecuting Ted Stevens, former Alaska Republican senator.

Do you think Stevens lost his recent election because of the inuendos, inaccurate, falsified testimony and outright unjust claims of impropriety that just now a judge has brought to the fore?

A civil defense attorney once told me that criminal defense lawyers — and he should have known, he partnered with one in his small law office — and police officers are only one step from being criminals themselves. There’s not much of a line to step over in the minds of some prosecutors — the vague line between being lawful and unlawful when it comes to prosecuting people. When a federal attorney can smell impropriety sometimes there are few things they won’t stop at doing to put a person behind bars, even when the person isn’t guilty. A conviction looks a lot better on their resumes than accomplishing nothing.

So it’s quite a story when a federal judge focuses scrutiny as one did on Monday on a small Justice Department unit assigned to root out corruption when he dismissed the conviction of former senator Ted Stevens and appointed an outside lawyer to investigate allegations of misconduct by prosecutors.

This Story

<!–var rn = ( Math.round( Math.random()*10000000000 ) );document.write('‘) ;// –> This is an extremely rare move that could turn the Obama Justice Department applecart upside down. When you put that department on the defensive — especially with all of the Democrat-Republican implications here — you have created a hornets nest for Obama Attorney General Eric Holder and his staff. Wasn’t it just months ago that the liberal press and Democrats were calling for an investigation of the wrongdoings of Republican Attorney General Roberto Gonzales?

To turn the investigation on the prosecutors themselves puts six federal lawyers, accused of mishandling evidence and witnesses, in the awkward position of becoming potential defendants in a criminal trial. That will make them think twice before accusing anyone of a crime.

It was Obama, himself who, during the election campaign, wanted to overhaul the so-called tainted Bush legal apparatus and remake its reputation and now it’s Obama with egg on his face. Whether it turns out like that or not, it makes for great newspaper and blog copy. Usually, if the department had a complaint like that they would examin it internally, but not so today. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said yesterday that he has no faith in such an investigation after seeing so much “shocking and disturbing” behavior by the government.

“In 25 years on the bench, I have never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I have seen in this case,” he said.

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The judge aimed his criticism at prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity section, which has faced a shortage of experienced prosecutors and other resources, and has drawn attention for not winning convictions in some cases.
Yesterday, Sullivan said he would appoint his own “prosecutor” to determine whether the six Justice Department lawyers should face criminal contempt charges. Convictions on such charges could lead to fines or jail time for the lawyers, who range from front-line prosecutors to the head of the public integrity section.

Remember, Justice Department prosecutors and investigators are like “faceless men and women.” Their politics are not known — and should not be a factor — to Americans. But in this case it could turn ugly for Obama’s crew — that some Democrat zealots in that department let the ax fly too easily and without sufficient proof of any wrongdoing by former Senator Stevens. If that is what is found by the “independent prosecutor”, then so be it. Off to jail they go.

Doesn’t this remind you of Robinhood and the Sheriff of Naughtingham? As it turns out the good guys are being harrassed and the bad boys work for the sheriff. In the end, right prevails and the nasties are routed. We hope justice will be served this time, however it turns out. Comtempt of the law cannot be allowed.

Last week, a new team of prosecutors asked Sullivan to dismiss Stevens’s conviction and indictment after uncovering notes from previous prosecutors that contradicted testimony from a key government witness. Under court rules, the notes should have been turned over to defense attorneys before the trial, but Stevens’s legal team did not receive copies until last month. Stevens was convicted in October.

Paul O’Brien, one of the new Justice lawyers, told Sullivan that “we deeply, deeply regret that this occurred.” Laura Sweeney, a department spokeswoman, said officials will review Sullivan’s order “and will continue to cooperate with the court on this matter.”

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