I am going to let others talk today about proposed federal legislation that would require more extensive sharing of evidence from prosecutors in federal criminal cases, a possible Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the special counsel's report on prosecutorial abuses in the Ted Stevens case, and the likelihood of release of all or part of an internal Department of Justice probe into that misconduct by the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility ("OPR").
I'm writing today about anguish.
High feelings have simmered for years about the Ted Stevens case. They have boiled over again since the release of that special counsel's report Thursday morning finding instances of intentional misconduct by individual prosecutors in turning over evidence to the defense before and during the Ted Stevens trial in 2008.
While grimly satisfied that the special counsel's report found that some federal prosecutors did dirt to then-U.S. Sen. Stevens, some of the Senator's closest associates are hurt that there has not been universal acceptance of the notion that the report represents exoneration and absolute proof that Ted Stevens was innocent of the charges brought against him. One example of the view seen as hurtful would include veteran Alaska journalist Michael Carey's op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times today (behind paywall if a reader who hasn't subscribed has exceeded quota of free content). While excoriating the prosecutors for misconduct, Carey also states that "We don't know what a fair trial would have produced." Another expression of a nuanced view of the report's meaning has of course come on this blog.
Also feeling a lot of pain the past few days are a number of friends and current and former colleagues of the individual prosecutors called out as intentional wrongdoers in the special counsel's report. These government lawyers by and large concede mistakes in providing discovery, while each of those prosecutors disclaims any intent to violate ethical rules and constitutional obligations.
What is striking is that those closest to the late Senator and those closest to the accused prosecutors who pursued him tend to say the same thing: There is no way the person they have known well could have intentionally broken the law.
In the spirit of that pain felt by so many these days, I take the opportunity to urge this blog's readers to take a few minutes to think the best possible thoughts about those who have views different from yours. Spend a little time giving the benefit of the doubt to those up against you. Conceive of some good motivations they could hold, and imagine some laudable impulses behind their actions.