Wednesday, April 1, 2009

NOT a surprise

A few months ago on October 9th I criticized the prosecutors in the trial of former Alaskan Republican Senator Ted Stevens, who was convicted of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations from an Alaskan businessman.

And on October 11th, I threw out this in The Weekly Rewind: “Heckle: to the continuing incompetence of the Sen. Ted Stevens (r-AK) prosecutors. If they don’t kill the case against him, I’ll be surprised…”

Turns out I was right, the prosecution did kill the case, it just took a while for it to actually happen.

The Justice Department is dropping all charges against Stevens as Attorney General Eric Holder has concluded that the conduct of the former senator's trial merits dropping the charges against Stevens as well as a potential review of the DOJ’s overall handling of the case.

Said Mr. Holder’s statement this morning; “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.”

My first thoughts quickly turned to how this could impact the Obama Administration, as I’m sure some Republicans will seize on this to somehow blame it on rogue Democratic elements in the DOJ while ignoring the fact the DOJ has been incredibly politicized over the last 8 years under some of the most corrupt and incompetent Attorneys General ever while being as a political legal arm of the Bush(whacked) Administration.

Now while the decision to drop charges against Stevens is definitely a disaster, it also gives Holder ample opportunity to start clearing house as misconduct on this grand of a scale is reason to inspect everything the DOJ has, and has not, done over the last 8 years.

This example of DOJ ineptitude could also be the start of an effort to other investigations and/or Congressional hearings into events of the last 8 years.

The department's Office of Professional Responsibility will conduct a thorough review of the Stevens prosecution, and any findings could result in disciplinary or, though extremely unlikely, criminal proceedings.

The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, has repeatedly delayed sentencing of the former longtime senator because of the actions of the prosecutors, going as far as holding them in contempt last month for failing to turn over documents to him as he had ordered, labeling their behavior as “outrageous.”


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