Sunday, April 7, 2013

Judge overturns suspensions of prosecutors in Ted Stevens' case

Long time readers of this blog will remember I have been following the story about prosecutorial misconduct in the prosecution of the late Senator Ted Stevens and that I have posted numerous comments and links on it.  To access those, type "Stevens" in the "search this blog" box on the right side panel.

As you may recall, back in 2011, a court-appointed investigator found that the prosecution was “permeated” by the prosecutors’ “serious, widespread and at times intentional” illegal concealment of evidence that would have helped Mr. Stevens defend himself at his 2008 trial. See here.  However, the investigator recommended against imposing a finding of contempt on the prosecutors involved because the judge who presided over the trial did not issue an order specifically instructing prosecutors to obey the law, and act according to their ethical duties, both of which required them to turn over any exculpatory evidence. I criticized this report here. I argued that it was inconceivable that a report could find clear and intentional misconduct and then not recommend sanctions. 

Contrary to that criminal investigation, however, the Department of Justice's own investigation did not find that the prosecutors acted intentionally and for that reason the prosecutors were sanctioned merely with suspensions without pay (one for 40 days and one for 15 days), which I argued was a joke.

Now the joke is even worse, as an administrative judge has overturned the suspensions.  As reported in the New York Times, in a 29-page ruling released late Friday night, the administrative judge ruled that the Justice Department violated its own procedures on whether professional misconduct had occurred.  This is just the latest chapter on the comedy of errors this case has become.