Wednesday, April 8, 2009

FREE THE CROOK CHARGE THE PROSECUTOR

Good Morning Flint!,
By Terry Bankert 3/8/09
http://www.divorcelawguy.com

Full article at http://goodmorningflint.blogspot.com/

LET THE CROOK GO TO HOLD THE SYSTEM ACCOUNTABLE

If you had to make a choice between these two which is more important to you, fairness of the process or determination of guilt?

There's plenty of guilt to go around in the Ted Stevens case[6]

I think the difference between us an a third world dictator is the rule of law and the fairness of the judiciary.

PROSECUTORIAL ABUSE TIP OF THE ICEBERG?

It was enough to give even a hardened conservative a bleeding-heart sympathy for the accused. "Imagine what it's like for people who don't have any money," Andrew Lundquist, a former aide to Stevens and to Vice President Dick Cheney, said as he left the courtroom. [5]

THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WAS POLITICIZED UNDER BUSH, OBAMA IS EXPECTED TO RE PROFESSIONALIZE IT.

There is no way to put a good "spin" on what happened in regard to corruption allegations against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. Heads should roll in the Justice Department as a result of its bungling of the case.[7]

This issue raises fundamental constitutional questions about the importance and political independence of the court. We should all be angry.

PROSECUTOR OR PERSECUTOR

A federal judge dismissed the ethics conviction of former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska on Tuesday after taking the extraordinary step of naming a special prosecutor to investigate whether the government lawyers who ran the Stevens case should themselves be prosecuted for criminal wrongdoing.[1]

THE IRONY OF IT ALL

The longest-serving Senate Republican had become an unlikely victim of the overreach of George W. Bush's Justice Department. [5]

IF HE IS GUILTY HE SHOULD NOT BE RE CHARGED, CAN HE BE RE CHARGED?

Stevens was convicted Oct. 27 of seven counts of failing to disclose gifts, including home renovations, on his Senate financial-disclosure forms. He lost his re-election bid days later.[4]

LET THE LITTLE FISH GO TO PUNISH THE WHALE

Either a corrupt politician is escaping punishment because of prosecutors' illegal zeal - or the government illegally persecuted a public servant. We may never know the full truth about allegations against Stevens.[7]

A LITTLE HARLEY ROUGH JUSTICE ROLLING DOWN THE HIGHWAY

The investigation into whether prosecutors broke the law in pursuing their case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is being led by a Harley-riding attorney known for his low-key style and experience on both sides of criminal law.[2]


JUDGE SEETHING

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, speaking in a slow and deliberate manner that failed to conceal his anger, said that in 25 years on the bench, he had "never seen mishandling and misconduct like what I have seen" by the Justice Department prosecutors who tried the Stevens case.[1]
[Judge Sullivan]...announced that he was naming a special prosecutor to investigate whether government attorneys had broken the law by failing to ensure that the Alaska Republican got a fair trial.[4]

WE MUST HAVE AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW

The Justice Department is conducting its own investigation, but Sullivan said it's moving too slowly and the allegations are too important to leave to an internal review.[2]

WHICH IS THE MORE IMPORTANT , THE SENATORS OR THE PROSECUTORS GUILT?

The unraveling of the case overshadowed the facts of a trial in which Stevens was shown to have accepted thousands of dollars in undisclosed gifts. After Sullivan dismissed the case, Stevens turned to his friends and held up a fist in victory as his wife and daughters broke into loud sobs. A couple of Stevens supporters broke into applause when Sullivan announced the criminal investigation.[2]

BAD PROSECUTORS, MAYBE THIS WAS WHAT SPAIN AND THE INQUISITION WAS LIKE!

Indeed, dismissing the case because prosecutors were bad is not the same thing as saying Stevens is good. Some of the most damning accusations during the trial -- his acceptance of furniture, a puppy, a stained-glass window, a statue of migrating salmon and a Shiatsu massage lounger -- were largely unrelated to the prosecutorial misdeeds. Also, Stevens did at least as much to hurt his cause as prosecutors did, including his combative appearance on the stand and his request for an expedited trial, without which he almost certainly would have been reelected. [5]

HE’S NOT A CROOK UNTIL CONVICTED

Just because a federal judge dismissed all charges Tuesday against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens doesn't mean he's not a crook. [6]

YOU HOLD YOUR CARDS CLOSE IN POKER NOT PROSECUTION

Judge Sullivan’s lacerating 14-minute speech, focusing on disclosures that prosecutors had improperly withheld evidence in the case, virtually guaranteed reverberations beyond the morning’s dismissal of the verdict that helped end Mr. Stevens’s Senate career. [1]

ONCE AGAIN THEY ARE SORRY FOR WHAT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION DID TO THIS COUNTRY.

Paul O'Brien, a federal prosecutor newly assigned to the case, apologized to the judge on behalf of the department.[2]

TIP OF THE ICEBERG

Stevens found that when the government starts down a path of disregard for the rule of law -- at Abu Ghraib, in the torture memos, in the mass firings of U.S. attorneys and at Gitmo -- ultimately even a powerful lawmaker is not immune. Stevens, rescued by a Democratic attorney general and new prosecutors who "deeply, deeply regret" what happened, pledged to push for legislation to reform prosecutions "when the dust settles." [5]

ETHICS OF THE PROSECUTION

The judge, who was named to the Federal District Court here by President Bill Clinton, delivered a broad warning about what he said was a "troubling tendency" he had observed among prosecutors to stretch the boundaries of ethics restrictions and conceal evidence to win cases. [1]

Withholding materials that could be helpful to criminal defendants has become a troubling Justice Department trend, Sullivan said, citing Stevens' case and that of a Guant√°namo detainee who fought to have his medical records released to his lawyers.[4]

THE RULES MUST BE APPLIED FAIRLY

Recalling the Supreme Court description of a prosecution's proper role -- "not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done" -- he drew a link between the Stevens debacle and the Justice Department's most prominent recent abuse of power. The government's obligations to the accused, he said, apply whether it's "a public official, a private citizen or a Guantanamo Bay detainee." When the judge heard that Stevens's attorneys sent three letters about prosecutorial misconduct to former attorney general Michael Mukasey but received no response, he called it "shocking -- but not surprising." [5]

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

He named Henry F. Schuelke 3rd, a prominent Washington lawyer, to investigate six career Justice Department prosecutors, including the chief and deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section, an elite unit charged with dealing with official corruption, to see if they should face criminal charges.[1]

He said that he had asked a former military judge, Henry Schuelke III of Washington, to investigate the prosecutors for potential obstruction-of-justice charges.[4]

PROSECUTORS CAUSE SENATORS DEFEAT?

Only days after a jury last October found Mr. Stevens guilty on seven felony counts, he was narrowly defeated in his bid for re-election. Mr. Stevens had been the longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate. [1]

GRUMPY SMILES

The smile Mr. Stevens displayed during Tuesday’s court session would have been unfamiliar to those who have followed him in the Senate, where he had a reputation as being dour and grumpy.[1]

COLLATERAL DAMAGE FOR JUSTICE?

In a brief statement, Mr. Stevens told the court that he had long maintained an unwavering faith in the judicial system. "But what some members of the prosecution team did nearly destroyed my faith," he said. "Their conduct had consequences for me that they will never realize and can never be reversed."[1]

IT WAS JUST A "Home Improvement".

Mr. Stevens was charged with failing to list on Senate disclosure forms some $250,000 worth of goods and services he received, mostly to transform a modest chalet he owned in Girdwood, Alaska, into a more splendid residence. [1]

SLOW MOVING LIARS!

During the five-week trial, prosecutors were repeatedly forced to acknowledge that they had failed to turn over information to defense lawyers as required. "Again and again, both during and after the trial in this case, the government was caught making false representations and not meeting its discovery obligations," Judge Sullivan said Tuesday. [1]

IT WAS JUST THE LAW OF THE LAND!

A 1963 Supreme Court ruling, Brady v. Maryland, requires prosecutors to give a defendant all information they hold that might materially help the defense.[1]

THE NEW GUY SAYS WE ARE JUST GOING TO DO IT RIGHT

The Stevens case finally collapsed last Wednesday, more than five months after the verdict, when Eric H. Holder Jr., the recently installed attorney general, asked that all charges be dismissed because the new lawyers whom he had put in charge of the case had discovered yet another example of concealment.[1]

DID MR.ALLEN GET A DEAL?

During the trial, defense lawyers argued that Mr. Stevens had written a letter to Bill Allen, a onetime friend and the owner of a huge oil services company, asking for a bill for all the goods and services that Mr. Allen had provided. Mr. Allen, the chief prosecution witness, discredited that letter, testifying that he had been told by Bob Persons, an emissary from Mr. Stevens, to ignore the letter because the senator was just seeking to provide a false record to protect himself.[1]

PERSONS WHO?

But recently discovered notes showed that prosecutors who interviewed Mr. Allen on April 15, 2008, heard him say that he did not remember any such conversation with Mr. Persons.[1]

WHY DID HE CHANGE HIS TESTIMONY?

Mr. Stevens’s defense lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, told the court Tuesday that he had been blind sided by Mr. Allen’s testimony about the letter. "It was the most explosive testimony in the case," Mr. Sullivan said.[1]

A LITTLE WHITE LIE

Mr. Sullivan said that had he known of the prosecutors’ notes, he would have been able to argue that Mr. Allen’s account of the conversation with Mr. Persons was fabricated.[1]

PROSECUTOR ON PROSECUTOR

Paul O’Brien, chief of the new prosecution team that discovered the latest impropriety by the original prosecutors, said in court that "we deeply regret that this has occurred."[1]

THE FEDERAL 6 ABOUT TO TAKE A FALL

Judge Sullivan named six prosecutors as the subject of Mr. Schuelke’s investigation, including William M. Welch II, who heads the public integrity unit, and his deputy, Brenda K. Morris. Justice Department officials said the prosecutors remained at work on Tuesday.[1]
The other lawyers are Joseph W. Bottini, James A. Goeke, Nicholas A. Marsh and Edward P. Sullivan. None of them were in the courtroom Tuesday except as presences to be repeatedly flayed by the judge and Brendan Sullivan.[1]

Biographical sketches of six federal prosecutors under investigation for mishandling the trial of former Sen. Ted Stevens.[3]

_BRENDA MORRIS: A longtime prosecutor with the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, Morris now serves as its principal deputy. She helped supervise the investigation into disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and has prosecuted corruption cases around the country. She teaches corruption investigations within the Justice Department and is a professor at Georgetown Law School. A graduate of Howard University law school, she served as the lead attorney in the Stevens trial, giving the government's opening statement and cross-examining Stevens.[3]

_NICHOLAS MARSH: One of two public integrity trial attorneys on the case, Marsh handled much of the courtroom work during the trials of Alaska lawmakers caught up in the scandal. He has been part of numerous other public corruption investigations, including one involving a scheme in Mississippi to defraud a $400 million fen-phen settlement fund. An FBI whistleblower accused Marsh of intentionally withholding evidence from Stevens and sending a witness back to Alaska during trial to prevent potentially damaging testimony. The prosecution team denies those accusations.[3]

_JOSEPH BOTTINI: An assistant U.S. attorney in Alaska, Bottini was a key figure in the Stevens case. He questioned the government's star witness, Bill Allen, and delivered the second half of the government's closing argument. Much of Allen's testimony had been discredited. The contempt investigation will look into whether prosecutors knew there was evidence of inconsistencies in Allen's statements but concealed it. Bottini graduated from California Western School of Law.[3]

_WILLIAM WELCH: The chief of the Public Integrity Section, Welch supervised the Stevens case but did not participate in the trial. He has supervised every major public corruption case brought by the department in the last several years. A former prosecutor in Springfield, Mass., Welch prosecuted former veterans hospital nurse Kristen Gilbert for killing four patients by injecting them with a heart stimulant. A graduate of Northwestern University Law School, Welch has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the U.S. attorney job in Massachusetts.[3]

_EDWARD SULLIVAN: The other public integrity trial attorney in the case, Sullivan has been part of the trial team that won convictions of several Alaska lawmakers caught up in the corruption scandal. He played a mostly behind-the-scenes role in the Stevens trial and his role in preparing the mishandling of evidence is unclear.[3]

_JAMES GOEKE: An assistant U.S. attorney in Alaska, Goeke also had a largely behind-the-scenes role in the Stevens trial. He has been a key figure in the prosecution of other politicians wrapped up in the Alaska corruption scandal.[3]

THE ECHO OF GEORGE BUSH

Judge Sullivan also criticized Michael B. Mukasey, the last attorney general in the Bush administration, saying it was shocking that he had failed to respond to letters from the defense team complaining about the Stevens prosecution. Mr. Mukasey’s office would not comment. [1]

THIS IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS

Judge Sullivan previously served on the District of Columbia Superior Court, the equivalent of a state court, to which he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. [1]

JUDGE SULLIVAN THE FEDERAL COURT AND THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH

Like other judges on the Federal District Court in the nation’s capital, he has ruled on cases involving the rights of detainees at Guant√°namo Bay, Cuba, and other issues of federal policy. He is now hearing a case that he will decide without a jury: the contention of animal rights advocates that the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus mistreats its elephants.[1]

PROSECUTORS MAY BE PROSECUTED

Michael Madigan, an experienced former prosecutor with the Orrick law firm in Washington, said Judge Sullivan’s decision to name his own prosecutor was highly unusual but was explicitly provided for in the rules of federal procedure. Under the rules, Mr. Madigan said, a judge may choose his own prosecutor for contempt investigations.[1]
Mr. Madigan said Mr. Schuelke would "operate under the authority of the court."[1]
"He will then recommend to the court whether to seek criminal contempt charges," Mr. Madigan said.[1]

"You'd think there would be jubilation, that we'd be high-fiving each other around the office," Brendan Sullivan, attorney for the fallen senator, said of the moment two weeks ago when he learned of the prosecutorial misconduct that would lead the government to drop the case against his client. "My reaction was sick; I was sick in my stomach," he said. "It was revulsion, revulsion turned to anger. . . . I was in a silent rage." [5]

Stevens, whose 40 years in the Senate made him the longest-serving Republican in the body's history before he was convicted, spoke briefly at the hearing.[4]
In the end, a form of rough justice triumphed in the case. It was a marginal prosecution to start with -- accusations of penny-ante corruption and ethics violations -- and it ended with a political, rather than a legal, punishment: Stevens keeps a clean criminal record, but loses his Senate seat. The judge has dismissed the case, but the court of public opinion is unlikely to be as generous.[5]

Setting aside the testimony tainted by prosecutorial misconduct, trial transcripts paint him as a man who lived lavishly off gifts from his political backers while concealing his allegiance to them. The loss of his long-held Senate seat is a fitting punishment, even if a court-approved sentence would have been more satisfying.[6]

Posted here by Terry Bankert
http://www.flintdivorce.com/

You are invited to continue these discussions on my face book. http://www.facebook.com/people/Terry-Bankert/645845362

sources:
[1]
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/us/politics/08stevens.html?bl&ex=1239336000&en=75a8bd1abce1493a&ei=5087%0A

[2]
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gUP1B2Zw_4dNuu7VoIE48DDqE4dAD97E4S3G0

[3]
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jwwUitG44VN1O-xnL--GqxTWHWyQD97E4SC01

[4]
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation/story/989564.html
[5]
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/07/AR2009040703649.html?hpid=topnews

[6]
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-stevens8-2009apr08,0,191069.story

[7]
http://www.messengernews.net/page/content.detail/id/514253.html

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