Friday, June 3, 2011

Pre-Trial Fencing Starts Regarding Pete Kott's Re-Trial


A court hearing in the re-started Pete Kott case this morning resulted in some judicial decisions on procedural matters, but left open the question of whether the United States government will ever re-try the former Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives.

The magistrate granted the defendant's motion to appoint an attorney to defend him in the possible re-trial, and then went ahead and selected the lawyer who has already represented Kott on appeal. The court provisionally denied, however, the request for a second defense attorney more experienced in trials to represent the former Eagle River Republican lawmaker, now a Juneau resident.

Looming over the hearing was the issue of whether the prosecution would press ahead after all that has happened. U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler told U. S. Magistrate John Roberts that "for now" the feds plan to re-try the former legislator, but that "things could change." The government made moves that protected its options on a re-trial--Loeffler named two additional prosecutors in Washington, D.C. who are set to work on the Kott case, one of whom was among the lawyers in four cities participating in the teleconferenced hearing.

Printing your roster is of course not the same thing as playing the game, however, and I adhere to my previously expressed belief that the federal government will never re-try either Kott or his former legislative colleague, ex-State Rep. Vic Kohring (R.-Wasilla). I predict with even more certainty that neither man will ever spend another day in prison for their roles in Alaska's public corruption scandals.

The pressures on the prosecution and the defense in each of those cases may lead to Kott and Kohring resolving their cases against them by pleading guilty to that same unique state misdemeanor of knowingly consorting with unregistered lobbyists that the feds got former Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch (R.-Juneau) to plead guilty to in a deal to make the multiple federal felonies go away. Although the evidence is stronger against Kott and Kohring than it was against Weyhrauch, the incentives for the prosecution to avoid airing in a courtroom the federal government's interactions and decisions regarding convicted briber and accused sex abuser Bill Allen are very strong in the cases of all three former legislators.

Whatever happens, it looks like the decisions on the re-trials of Kott and Kohring will come before the leaves fall. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick has ordered that the lawyers agree on a proposed re-trial date that is no later than August 9 of this year in the Kott case, and it looks like the schedule will run about a week later in the Kohring case. Stay tuned.

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