Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Ted Stevens Case and the Death of Nicholas Marsh: A Belated Link to the New Yorker Article


I'm back in the country and can now belatedly direct you to Jeffrey Toobin's New Yorker article on the relationship between the Ted Stevens case, the investigation of the Senator's prosecutors, and the suicide of Nicholas Marsh, one of those prosecutors. I'm still travelling and will comment later on Toobin's conclusions.

The press release from the New Yorker announcing the piece is below. At the bottom is a link to the article itself, which is behind a paywall.

The Justice Department Clearly Wronged Senator Ted Stevens. Did It Also Wrong One of His Prosecutors?

In the January 3, 2011, issue of The New Yorker, in “Casualties of Justice” (p. 38), Jeffrey Toobin looks at the trial of Senator Ted Stevens and the subsequent suicide of Nicholas Marsh, who was one of the prosecutors on the case. Stevens was serving his sixth full term in Alaska when, in 2008, he was indicted on charges of failing to report gifts. Marsh, who was a relatively junior lawyer in the Justice Department and was working out of the √©lite Public Integrity Section, “built the case against Stevens, and, working with F.B.I. agents and local prosecutors, co√∂rdinated a massive investigation of corruption in the state’s politics,” Toobin writes. In many respects, “Marsh’s most important task was negotiating a deal with Bill Allen, whose bribes fuelled so much corruption in the state.” Allen, who was the chief executive of a major oil-services firm, pleaded guilty in 2007 to charges of bribery and conspiracy stemming from his dealings with four state legislators, and was going to be the key witness against Stevens. His firm, Veco, provided the “things of value” that Stevens failed to disclose. Initially, owing in large part to Allen’s testimony, Stevens was convicted on all counts, but “Marsh and his colleagues did not have long to enjoy their triumph.” Allegations that the prosecutors failed to disclose critical exculpatory evidence to the defense—a fundamental breach of prosecutorial ethics—surfaced, and the judge was “outraged,” Toobin writes. “The prosecution was a shambles, and Stevens hadn’t even been sentenced yet. Superiors in the Justice Department decided to bring in a whole new team to try to salvage the conviction. After four years of work, Marsh had been thrown off the case of his life.” The next month, the new prosecutorial team found something that had not been disclosed before: an undocumented interview with Bill Allen that shed serious doubts on what had been the most important evidence in the trial. Soon afterward, the case against Stevens was dropped, and the judge excoriated Marsh and his colleagues. “In nearly twenty-five years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case,” the judge said. Marsh found himself the subject of a criminal inquiry rather than the leader of one. Toobin writes, “Marsh had to start answering questions he was used to asking: What did he know, and when did he know it? This was difficult—practically and psychologically.” The inquiry dragged on for months, and “Nick was very frustrated by the pace of the investigation,” Marsh’s friend Josh Waxman tells Toobin. “Someone like him, who had done everything on the straight and narrow, ethical to a T—to have to wait and sit back to hope that his name would be cleared, that really wore on him.” After a full year went by without results of the investigations, Marsh’s “impatience gave way to despair,” Toobin writes. He committed suicide on September 26th, at the age of thirty-seven. Navis Bermudez, Marsh’s wife, tells Toobin, “I don’t think I understood the depths of how the allegations affected him. . . . Even thinking that his career would be over was just too much for him. The idea that someone thought he did something wrong was just too much to bear.” Please see this link: http://nyr.kr/fnAf3D

1 comment:

Mike Rice said...

What good is it to direct one to a stub of an article, a total of 3 paragraphs. I've read the entire thing but am looking for a digital copy I can send to friends.