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

December 2014

Gateway to Freedom

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Guns and Poses

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Christmas in Prison

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Poison Apples

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Growing Up

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Sarah Topol follows the trade routes used by arms smugglers, Eric Foner explores the hidden history of the Underground Railroad, Karl Ove Knausgaard recounts a humiliating episode from grade school, and more
Photograph by Angela Strassheim
Article
Growing Up·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The best coming-of-age stories have a hole in the middle. They pretend to be about knowledge, but they are usually about grasping, long after it could be of any use, one’s irretrievable ignorance.”
Photograph by Ben Pier
Article
Guns and Poses·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘It’s open shopping,’ he said. ‘A warehouse. The whole of Libya.’”
Map by Mike Reagan
Article
Gateway to Freedom·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The Vigilance Committee survived until the eve of the Civil War, and over the course of its several incarnations it propelled the plight of fugitives to the forefront of abolitionist consciousness.“
Photograph by Amani Willett
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Amount that President Obama has added to America’s “brand value” according to the Nation Brands Index:

$2,100,000,000,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

A former New York City police officer who had been arrested in 2012 for exchanging online messages about cooking women alive and eating them, and for illegally accessing data about potential victims in law-enforcement databases, was sentenced to time served.

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