Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Special Counsel Testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee on Prosecutorial Misconduct in Ted Stevens Case

Lake Buena Vista, Florida--

I watched this morning large portions of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing regarding the court-appointed special counsel's report on prosecutorial mishandling of the Ted Stevens case.    (Shaky Internet connections caused me to miss some of the hearing, so I will track down a tape or transcript for the rest and write more later.) 

There was only one witness heard:   the lead investigator and report-writer, veteran Washington, D.C. attorney Henry F. "Hank" Schuelke, III.    

Schuelke is forceful and impressive, and his "Voice of God" manner helps explain why he has become such a successful attorney.

Asked why the prosecutors' acts and omissions occurred, Schuelke said that he thought the time crunch and management failures he and his co-investigator detailed in the report were not the sole reasons for the Justice Department's failures in providing discovery in the Ted Stevens case.  

In response to a question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D.-Calif.--a longtime Senate colleague of Ted Stevens--about  the motivations of the prosecutors, Schuelke said the government lawyers' failings apparently stemmed from an excessive desire to win based on the spirit of "contest living."    (I first encountered this term in a book about Edward Bennett Williams, a legendary Washington attorney who served as the mentor for lead Ted Stevens lawyer Brendan Sullivan.)

Schuelke said that his analysis of the prosecutors' personalities made it less likely that any lust for fame or glory drove the prosecutors to commit what the special counsel's report described as systematic and intentional concealment of evidence from the defense.   

From what I observed--and from a story filed by reporters who presumably covered the hearing in person and saw the whole event--it appears that the only example of wrongly withheld evidence mentioned by Schuelke in the hearing involved the statements of VECO ramrod Rocky Williams.   

Even though the relatively short hearing forced compression, this emphasis was odd.    The prosecution should have provided to the defense that evidence of Rocky Williams.   In terms of impact on the verdict, however, the evidence of Bill Allen's different accounts about the statements of Bob Persons about Ted Stevens' feelings regarding the desire of Stevens to pay VECO for its work on Stevens' home was unquestionably a more important matter to have been turned over to the defense.   (This evidence arose in the context of "the Torricelli note" and the "CYA" testimony Bill Allen gave from the witness stand.)

[Administrative Note:  I am traveling, and will catch up more next week.]  


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