No Comment — February 6, 2009, 5:27 pm

Will Prosecutorial Misconduct Lead to Reversal of the Stevens Conviction?

The trial on corruption charges of the Senate’s senior Republican, Ted Stevens, ended on October 27, and the jurors quickly returned a “guilty” verdict. But now glaring disclosures of misconduct by the prosecution team raise doubt about whether the conviction will stand. As noted previously, Judge Emmet Sullivan, suggesting that he did not consider the Public Integrity Section lawyers appearing in the case to be credible. He insisted that then-Attorney General Mukasey furnish him with a written explanation for the Department’s failure to provide whistleblower protections to the FBI agent who came forward with the prosecutorial misconduct allegations that have rocked the case.

Mukasey apparently departed without complying with the judge’s request. But Public Integrity Section chief William Welch sent the judge a detailed letter offering novel rationalizations for the prosecution’s false steps and seeking not to be held in contempt. Welch’s submission fails to comply with the specific demands the judge placed on prosecutors about disclosure of communications. Welch instead suggested that the judge was operating on the basis of a misunderstanding about the case and that he would need a further two weeks to comply if the judge persisted in his order. The Anchorage Daily News reports

In a letter to the judge dated Jan. 30 and made public Thursday, William M. Welch II, head of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, said he erred when he said in January that government employees cited in an FBI agent’s complaint alleging improprieties by government officials “want their story to be made public.” In fact, he wrote, not all of them gave their consent to having their names released Jan. 14 in a publicly filed copy of the eight-page complaint, though he didn’t identify which ones.

Stevens’s attorneys are seeking to have the conviction overturned on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct, a remedy which is rarely granted. In papers filed with the court, Stevens’s attorney states:

The government still does not get it. Over and over again, it has been caught red-handed making false representations to the Court and the defense.

This is the latest in a long series of scandals surrounding prosecutions by the Public Integrity Section, differing from others only in that the defendant in this case is a prominent Republican. A special prosecutor is probing allegations that the Bush White House improperly manipulated prosecutors for political purposes following the release of reports by two Congressional committees and the Justice Department’s own Inspector General that documented such manipulation in great detail. None of the allegations touched upon the Stevens case, however.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2015

The War of the World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Sharp Edge of Life

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Great Republican Land Heist

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Captive Market

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Day of the Sea

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Great Republican Land Heist·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The wholesale transfer of public lands to state control may never be achieved. But the goal might be more subtle: to attack the value of public lands.”
Photograph by Chad Ress
Article
The Sharp Edge of Life·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The struggle of the novelist has been to establish a measure, a view of human nature, and usually, though not always, as large a view as belief and imagination can wring from observable facts.”
Photo by Eddie Adams/Associated Press
Article
Captive Market·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Fear of random violence lives on, but the reality is that violent-crime rates have dropped to levels not seen since the early Seventies."
Photograph by Richard Ross
Article
The Day of the Sea·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Fifteen judges will then sit together in a wood-paneled room, in a city thousands of miles from the Andes, and decide whether the ocean Bolivia claims as its right will at last be returned to it.”
Photo by Fabio Cuttica/Contrasto/Redux
Post
Introducing the February Issue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ruin of the West
Christopher Ketcham investigates Cliven Bundy’s years-long battle with the BLM, Annie Murphy reflects on Bolivia’s lost coast, and more
Painting by Richard Prince, whose work was on view in October at Gagosian Gallery in New York City © The artist. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Percentage increase in the annual number of polio cases in Pakistan since 2005:

857

A bowl of 4,000-year-old noodles was found in northwestern China; and a spokesman for the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that “this is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found.”

A federal judge sentenced the journalist Barrett Brown to 63 months in prison for sharing a link to information stolen from the private-intelligence firm Stratfor by a hacker in 2011. “Good news!” Brown said in a statement. “They’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today