Saturday, April 11, 2009

What Happened, What It Looked Like, and What It Means (Part Three)


Legally speaking, the first thing to know about this dismissal is that the jury verdict finding Ted Stevens guilty of seven felony counts has been set aside and—in the words of Judge Sullivan—“has no legal effect.”

As Judge Sullivan also noted in his written order of dismissal, he never issued a judgment of conviction that would have imposed sentence on the former Senator. As a result, in a technical sense Ted Stevens was correct when he asserted right after the verdict that he had not been convicted.

Reflecting the reality that the court’s setting aside of the jury verdict eliminated any legal disability for the former Senator, the Alaska Bar Association moved immediately after the court’s dismissal of the indictment to withdraw the motion for interim suspension of Ted Stevens’ license to practice law in the 49th State. The Alaska Bar Association had made that motion after the jury said “Guilty” seven times last October, but the Legal Times reported that the Alaska Supreme Court had not yet taken action by the time of Judge Sullivan’s setting aside of the jury verdict. (A court in the District of Columbia had issued an interim suspension of Stevens’ D.C. law license in December, but the Legal Times also reported on April 9 that the licensing authority in our nation’s capital is also expected to move to lift that suspension in the wake of Judge Sullivan’s order.)

There are two more outstanding—and interrelated—questions about the future:

A. What happens to the trial prosecutors in the Ted Stevens case?

B. What happens to the federal investigation into public corruption in Alaska?

I wrote about these subjects at some length 10 days ago when the Attorney General threw in the towel, but that was before Judge Sullivan has ordered his own investigation of the trial prosecutors’ handling of evidence and witnesses to go along with the already-ongoing internal investigation by the Department of Justice.

I will have more to write later about these topics. The short answers to Questions A and B above are that all this scrutiny of the trial prosecutors (and lead investigators) both makes the lives of those federal employees very difficult and tends to put up barriers to the successful prosecution of additional targets in the underlying investigation into Alaska public corruption.

For today, I point you to two articles:

Ashby Jones, Wall Street Journal Law Blog, “Pregaming the Ted Stevens-Prosecutors Investigation,” found at

William Yardley, New York Times, New Scrutiny of Other Alaska Corruption Cases,” found at (note that the article misspells the last name of former state Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch)

Coming up:

What’s the story on Henry Schuelke, the private attorney selected by Judge Sullivan as the special prosecutor investigating the work of the trial prosecutors in the Ted Stevens case?

What is the likelihood that Ted Stevens will seek to get his legal fees paid by the Department of Justice?

Why did the Department of Justice charge Ted Stevens with felony counts alleging financial disclosure violations so close to an election?

Why did these discovery problems occur in the prosecution?

Why did Ted Stevens push so hard for a quick trial?

What would have happened if Ted Stevens hadn’t pushed so hard for a quick trial?

1 comment:

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