DOJ Report Blasts Prosecutors in Stevens Case

Friday, 25 May 2012 12:10 PM

By Dan Weil

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The Department of Justice has issued a scathing report on its own lawyers’ misconduct in the department’s flawed case against late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

After the report was released, the department suspended two of its attorneys without pay. And Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, scheduled a hearing for June 6 to review the report, The Hill reports.

The suspended lawyers are Joseph Bottini and James Goeke. The report concluded they “acted in reckless disregard” for their legal duties by failing to disclose exculpatory evidence to Stevens’ lawyers. The two attorneys already were shipped out of the department’s public integrity division as a result of their misconduct in the case.

Stevens, one of the Senate’s most powerful members, was convicted in 2008 on charges that he accepted improper gifts  — renovations to his cabin — from an oil executive. A few days later, Stevens, a Republican, lost his re-election bid. He died two years ago in a plane crash in Alaska, aged 86.

Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the panel’s hearing will discuss what mistakes occurred and what Congress should do to make sure they don’t happen again.

“Prosecutors have an obligation to get the process right, not just to try to win cases,” Grassley said in a statement. “This was a high profile case that impacted the outcome of an election. If the Justice Department isn’t getting a big case such as this right, it begs the question of what is happening in courts across the country every day.”

In early 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder initiated a process to overturn Stevens’ conviction. Two reviews began, but neither was completed before Stevens’ death.



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