Judge Tears Into Stevens’ Prosecutors

Posted November 29, 2008 at 9:29am

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who oversaw the criminal trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R), reprimanded federal prosecutors Friday for violating court procedures.

Sullivan’s rebuke echoed a motion filed Wednesday by Stevens’ attorneys.

According to that document, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, government prosecutors submitted to Sullivan an “ex parte” filing, a sealed document that Stevens’ attorneys do not have access to. The motion seeks access to that communication.

Although Stevens was convicted in late October, a key witness against the Senator recently recanted part of his testimony.

Although Sullivan had granted a Dec. 1 hearing on allegations that the prosecution encouraged the witness to lie and improperly gave him access to evidence in preparation for his testimony against Stevens, the judge canceled that hearing Friday.

Instead, Sullivan ordered the government to respond to Stevens’ request to review its ex parte filing.

“The government shall also address any reasons why the Court should not strike the government’s ex parte pleading for failure to comply with Local Criminal Rule,” the court docket states. A hearing on the dispute is scheduled for Jan. 15.

Stevens was found guilty of seven counts of failing to disclose gifts on his annual financial disclosure forms in order to conceal the receipt of more than $250,000 in gifts, primarily in the form of renovations to his Girdwood, Alaska, home.

The Alaskan, who has maintained his innocence, was defeated in his re-election bid. He has yet to be sentenced.