Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Holder's Statement on the Stevens Case, Commentary, & More

AG Eric Holder sets the tone for this new DOJ (see here) in his DOJ Press Release which states, "After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial."

This dismissal is monumental in terms of sending a message that this justice department will be very different.  Many years ago a group of AG's signed an amicus brief in the case of Gideon v. Wainwright advocating for the defendant. They wanted a fair fight in court, and recognized the importance of the right to counsel to achieving justice.What happened today is on par with what happened back then. It is a recognition that prosecutors are not merely advocates, but rather "ministers of justice."  Today an Attorney General took the side of justice.

What Others Are Saying:

Ashby Jones, Breaking News: Gov. to Drop All Charges Against Ted Stevens, WSJ Blog here

Doug Berman, Sentencing Law & Policy here

Neil A. Lewis, N.Y. Times,U.S. to Drop Case Against Ex-Senator From Alaska

Erika Bolstad & Richard Mauer, Anchorage Daily News, Attorney general drops Stevens prosecution


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"Sets the tone for a new DOJ"?

I'm not so sure. Holder is still shopping for legal opinions -- see his actions re DC voting. The conduct in the Stevens case was indefensible, and DOJ knew it. Note that the conduct addressed in the motion to dismiss is wholly separate and apart from the allegations made by the FBI whistleblower. No doubt the more the new prosecution team dug through the files, the more problems they found.

So, let’s not be too quick to praise Holder for admitting the obvious. His conduct regarding the DC voting act bespeaks of an AG who will continue the Bush-era practices of searching out sympathetic opinions.

Posted by: Not so sure | Apr 2, 2009 6:24:01 AM

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