Saturday, August 16, 2008
Previously discussed here and here, the case against Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska is moving forward quickly. He is under indictment for seven counts of false statements under 18 U.S.C. section 1001. Del Quentin Wilber at the Washington Post has an article titled, "Court Filings Reveal Evidence Against Stevens - Prosecutors Possess Recordings of Senator Promising to Help Oil Company"
Tapes have destroyed many a criminal defendant's case. Often the criminal activity is not the most devastating aspect of the tape. It can be that the accused comes across as someone who just is not a likeable person. In some cases the defendant is forced to hear tapes played in court that may be filled with profanities and other statements that can taint him or her with the jurors. But just because there may be tapes, does not mean that they will automatically be admitted into evidence, and if they are, that they will prove damaging to the defense.
Tapes can also be a problem for the government in that it can confirm the accused's explanation of what might have really happened. In this case it sounds like the defense may have some forceful arguments. The first problem for the government is that the allegations appear to have the company executive coming to the Senator for assistance, as opposed to the reverse. Second is the very fact that this is a Senator, and everyone knows that Senators serve their constituents. Third is that the individual having the conversation with the Senator has obtained a plea deal from the government and this bargain will likely be scrutinized by the defense. So much of what really exists in the evidence related to this case, and what may not exist, has not been seen or discussed. That will happen when the Senator has his day in court.