Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Roundup of Investigation News


Here’s my effort to give the news of the day and catch up on some stuff I haven’t blogged during the last two weeks:

  • Ted Stevens’ trial prosecutors and the supervisor of the Public Integrity Section—sometimes called “the Stevens Six”—are engaging well-known Washington lawyers to represent them in the court-ordered criminal contempt probe into their own conduct. One of the defense attorneys gained fame as the lawyer for Karl Rove—strategist of George W. Bush’s electoral victories and Deputy Chief of Staff in the Bush White House—and another of those defense lawyers formerly represented another U.S. Senator in an ethics investigation. (Hat tip to Legal Times.) This court-ordered investigation—and the parallel probe by the Department of Justice itself—is both high-stakes and likely to be ungodly expensive for these government employees, who are unlikely to be able to tap political contributors or well-connected friends for donations to a legal defense fund. The Website is seeking to learn if the federal government will be paying any of those legal fees for the prosecutors under investigation.

  • Speaking of a legal defense fund, U.S. Rep. Don Young (R.-Alaska) is now paying all his legal bills from his legal defense fund as opposed to the campaign fund he was relying on heavily last year. (Hat tip to Anchorage Daily News.) Campaign records show that the 49th State’s only Congressman spent more than $1 million on legal bills last year.
  • Despite the dismissal of the Ted Stevens case with prejudice and the resulting black eye to the overall federal investigation into public corruption in Alaska, a court order signed last Monday shows that the Department of Justice still holds the position that the probe lives on. At the government’s request, Judge Emmet Sullivan issued an order directing the independent counsel examining the Stevens trial prosecutors to keep secret the information turned over by the Department by that lawyer. According to the Anchorage Daily News, Judge Sullivan ruled that "ongoing investigations" could be hampered by release of "certain investigative files, documents, e-mails, grand jury transcripts, interview notes, interview memoranda and other information." Judge Sullivan also cited privacy concerns of innocent persons as another reason for his non-disclosure order. (Hat tip to Anchorage Daily News.)
  • The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the appeals of former state Reps. Pete Kott (R.-Eagle River) and Vic Kohring (R.-Wasilla). At issue were allegedly incorrect jury instructions and the trial judge’s decisions to close to the public certain hearings about the scope of cross-examination of key prosecution witness Bill Allen, the long-time VECO CEO. Kohring’s lawyer also argued before the three-judge panel sitting in Seattle that the Wasilla legislator’s prior conflict with the wife of District Judge John Sedwick should have led the trial judge to recuse himself from Kohring’s case. Kott and Kohring continue to serve their sentences in federal prison while their appeals are pending. (Hat tip to the Associated Press as published in the Anchorage Daily News.)

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