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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ted Stevens Conviction Reversed, But What About The Election?

News is just breaking that Attorney General Eric Holder is withdrawing the indictment of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens based on severe prosecutorial misconduct. The Politico reports, via NPR, that Holder will instruct deputies to withdraw the indictment against the Alaska Republican today, effectively voiding the conviction that cost Stevens his job:

Holder is said to have decided late Tuesday to pull the plug. Stevens lawyers are expected to be informed Wednesday morning that the department will dismiss the indictment against the former senator.Holder's decision is said to be based on Stevens age, he's 84; and because Stevens is no longer in the Senate. Perhaps most importantly, Justice Department officials say Holder wants to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.Holder began his career in the office of public integrity; and according to sources, he was horrified by the failure of prosecutors to turnover all relevant materials to the defense.

Stevens lost his bid for re-election to Mayor Mark Begich of Anchorage, by 3,724 votes out of more than 315,000 cast. Begich is a big supporter of Obama's stimulus bill and big government spending. Without the Begich vote, Obama would have a much more difficult time passing his agenda.

This is what happens with politically motivated prosecutions. While Stevens may or may not have committed a crime, he was deprived of a fair trial by prosecutors who knowingly and in defiance of court orders withheld relevant documents and information in order to secure a conviction of a high-profile Senator. The result was not just a wrongful conviction, but a change in the overall structure of our political process which will have implications for decades if Begich becomes the deciding vote on Obama's agenda.

I give credit to Holder for the decision. Shame on the prosecutors who perverted justice.

Afterthought: The JournoListas probably will find a way to blame Bush: Liberal Ugliness Revealed On The JournoList, The JournoList Should Be Called The PlagiarList, Release ALL The E-Mails, Ezra, My First Tweet: The JournoList Sure Has A Lot Of Anti-Semitic Commenters, Ezra Klein Smears Ann Althouse.

UPDATE: Sarah Palin and others in Alaska are calling on Begich to resign and stand in a special election. Good idea, but isn't going to happen. Begich was handed a gift by the Justice Department, and he isn't going to give that gift back.
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  1. I don't think the dropping of the conviction is a sufficient deterrent to a repeat of such conduct and certainly it doesn't compensate the Senator of Alaska . Isn't there some way the judge can drop the case against Stevens but have an open hearing on the misconduct?

  2. The judge has held the prosecutors in contempt (http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/14/ted-stevens-prosecutors-held-in-contempt/) and I don't see any reason why the court could not pursue the ethical issues even after the indictment is dropped. It will be interesting to see what the Justice Department does with the prosecutors.

  3. This is sad that our political process has reached this level of corruption. I hope these prosecutors, Republican or Democrat, get removed from office, and if any charges can be filed, they should be prosecuted.


  4. The Judge continued to give the prosecutors the benefit of the doubt as they played him for a sucker. Were I in his place, I'd insist on a full hearing on the misconduct charge even as the conviction is overturned. He owes it to the public, to justice, to Senator Stevens and to the people of Alaska that the full extent of the perfidy be made public.

  5. the justice system is partially fault in the Steven's case, but then it would seem that the public's short attention span might also be at fault in this and similar scenarios