April 5, 2009
More on Stevens - Two Court Orders
The government filed a motion to dismiss the case against Ted Stevens, former senator from Alaska.(see here and here). And I immediately congratulated our new Attorney General on being a true "minister of justice" in a matter that appeared to warrant correction. As noted by Solomon Wisenberg over at Letter of Apology here, there are many lessons to be learned by prosecutors - most of all regarding the 302s, statements produced by the FBI when they interview witnesses. Wisenberg notes that when exculpatory information is obtained from a witness, in whatever form, that information is required to be turned over to the defense.
But it looks like someone else also wants it - the judge. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan entered two orders today (Sunday) - both sua sponte. He asks the government to provide by April 6th at 10:00 a.m. "all material gathered post-trial and produced to the defendant." Additionally he also asks the government to produce some materials including "exculpatory evidence, witness interviews, 302s, and affidavits" regarding one witness interview.
A second Order of the court requires all "government agencies involved in the investigation and/or prosecution of Senator Stevens [to] immediately preserve any and all documents related to this matter, including but not limited to emails, notes, memorandua,"...etc.
Gosh, wouldn't this all be simpler if we just went to videotaping all interviews. In this technology age it sure would help to have everything on playback.
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Holder's unilateral dismissal of the Stevens case is the proper move, but more than a few questions remains:
1. While Stevens' lawyer claims that his client is "innocent" does the factual record really support that claim, and do numerous prosecutions and ethical questions that surround Alaska politics support Stevens' characterization of himself?
2. Had Holder not dismissed the case, would the courts have had the gumption to throw out the convictions? As indicated by Siegelman and other cases, I have my doubts whether the largely pro-prosecution counts would have done so. At the least, it would have been a long, expensive and difficult task.
3. Can we be content to simply "move on" now that the Bush administration is gone? Don't we need some answers and some accountability for the last 8 years of management of the DOJ and other agencies?
Posted by: j. greenspan | Apr 6, 2009 8:40:16 AM
A strong prosecutor can defend his/her client despite having video tapes and voice recordings. There are various editing devices that can create false videos and tapes. I think these evidences may sometimes be deemed insufficient.
Posted by: Sranu | Apr 6, 2009 11:15:53 AM
Regarding the videotape observation, a filmed desposition cannot be altered without detection. It will cost more $$$ but it will carry more weight as evidence.
Video/digital media does not have this protection.
Perhaps a "red collar crime" section can be added to your blog. The change in color is due to the "red tape" usually associated with government business. If you google "Patriot Act used as whistleblower retaliation" you see an example of which I mention.
Posted by: senor thrill | Apr 8, 2009 11:10:47 AM