Sunday, February 15, 2009

Judge Sullivan Reconsiders, and the Lowest-Ranking Prosecutor Gets Off the Hook

Agoura Hills, California—

At least Kevin Driscoll can go on his honeymoon with no fear about going to jail.

Judge Emmet Sullivan reconsidered his Friday ruling holding four federal prosecutors in contempt for failing/refusing to turn over 30-odd documents relating to the Department of Justice’s handling of a FBI agent’s complaint touching on the Department’s prosecution of Ted Stevens.

Seeming to cool off, Judge Sullivan on Saturday afternoon released an order that reversed his announcement including DoJ Trial Attorney Kevin Driscoll in the roster of those he found in contempt of court. “Upon reflection,” the judge said that the facts that Driscoll—the most junior prosecutor working on the matter—did not sign the relevant pleadings and appeared to have been brought in only recently by the Department’s higher-ups resulting in the lawyer coming off the list of the contemptuous.

Judge Sullivan kept the three senior prosecutors in line for penalties, although his ardor to impose sanctions for contempt may cool now that the government has turned over the documents at issue. On the other hand, further incidents that anger the judge might actually lead him to order sanctions that bite on the prosecutors.

Saturday’s ruling letting him off the hook helps Driscoll’s early marital life. As reported by Joe Palazzolo in the Blog of Legal Times, the judge indicated on Friday that concern about interfering with Driscoll’s honeymoon had caused him to delay by a week a hearing previously scheduled for early April. That hearing will address the various post-trial motions the defense has made. As stated before in this blog, there’s a lot more litigation to go before Ted Stevens would ever be sentenced.

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