Stevens’ Attorneys Request ‘Fair’ Trial for Their Client

Posted December 5, 2008 at 6:11pm

Attorneys for Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) demanded a new trial Friday, claiming a range of alleged injustices that include government prosecutors tampering with witnesses and evidence, as well as a tainted jury pool.

“Senator Stevens was entitled to a fair trial,” defense attorneys wrote in a 78-page filing submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Stevens was convicted in late October on seven counts of filing false financial statements to conceal the receipt of more than $250,000 in gifts from the now-defunct VECO oil services firm and its chief executive.

Among the allegations raised by Stevens’ defense team: Government prosecutors coached star witness and former VECO CEO Bill Allen, and that Allen knowingly lied during his testimony.

“It is readily apparent that Bill Allen’s testimony was false — and that the government must have known that it was false,” the defense wrote.

Stevens’ attorneys allege that Allen fabricated a conversation he discussed on the witness stand, asserting it does not appear in any other interviews or court documents.

During the trial, Allen testified that a Stevens acquaintance, Bob Persons, instructed him not to bill the Senator for renovation work performed on his Girdwood, Alaska, home, despite a written request from Stevens to do so.

Persons, Allen testified, stated that Stevens was “just covering his ass” when he requested the bill.

“When questioned at trial, Mr. Persons adamantly denied ever having made the ‘CYA’ statement, and reasserted that the government never asked him whether he had made it,” the defense added in its motion.

Stevens’ attorneys also cited recent allegations by another VECO employee, Dave Anderson, that he lied on the stand at the behest of the prosecution.

“If a hearing confirms Mr. Anderson’s allegations, a new trial — at a minimum — will be warranted,” the defense wrote.

The defense also charged that at least two jurors on the panel hid their biases against the Senator or lawmakers in general during jury selection.

In particular, the attorneys cited statements made by one juror, Marian Hinnant, who told reporters: Stevens “didn’t do anything any other Congressman or Senator or governor or president has not done.”

Although Hinnant was dismissed from the jury after she said her father had died — in a subsequent hearing, Hinnant admitted she lied in order to attend a horse race — Stevens’ defense team asserts: “While Juror No. 4 was excused from the panel prior to verdict … her predisposed views about politicians’ guilt almost certainly tainted other members of the jury.”

Defense attorneys also criticized a blog published after the verdict by juror Colleen Walsh — who replaced Hinnant — suggesting that Walsh had also reached a predetermined verdict in the case.

In addition, Stevens questioned the speed with which the jury announced its verdict after Walsh was substituted for Hinnant.

“While the jury had been deliberating for two days without a verdict prior to the juror substitution, it reached a guilty verdict only a few hours after the jury’s deliberations allegedly began anew with” Walsh, the motion states.

In addition, Stevens’ attorneys revisited several objections raised before the trial began, including assertions that the case violated the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause as well as a request to relocate the trial to Alaska.

“Senator Stevens was unduly prevented from campaigning for reelection,” the motion states. Stevens was narrowly defeated in his re-election bid last month.

Defense attorneys also filed two additional motions, one seeking to dismiss portions of the indictment as repetitive and another asking for Stevens to be acquitted.

Federal prosecutors are expected to oppose the motion for a new trial. The government has until mid-January to file its response.

A hearing on the motion is set for Feb. 25, at which time Judge Emmet Sullivan could set a sentencing date.