Oxymoron of the day: Justice Department
As a person who has lived and worked in Alaska, I always knew Senator Ted Stevens was all-in on his state.
So it was with great disappointment to observe his trial and conviction in 2008 for accepting improper, undeclared, and untaxed benefits. The criminal behavior seemed totally out of character for a man who placed the concerns of Alaskans at the very top of his to-do list.
As it turns out, it was totally out of character.
In reality, Stevens was done-in by the gross misconduct on the part of Justice Department lawyers who engaged in “systematic concealment” of “significant exculpatory evidence which would have independently corroborated Senator Stevens’s defense and his testimony, and seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government’s key witness.”
Show trials, anyone?
The Wall Street Journal revisits the nasty affair and raises some issues certain to make the Justice Department uncomfortable (emphasis added):
Virtually the entire case against Ted Stevens hinged on the testimony of the government’s star witness, VECO Corporation CEO William Allen. To protect his credibility, prosecutors withheld from the defense evidence that he had suborned perjury in a separate criminal investigation. Nor did prosecutors say a word in court when, according to the report, Mr. Allen offered testimony that the prosecution knew to be false.
Suborned: To induce (a person) to commit perjury.
Most damaging to Justice’s credibility is that, three years after Judge Sullivan set aside the guilty verdicts against Stevens, the department still hasn’t disciplined the men and women involved. Nor has it instituted harsher penalties for future abuses. Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate committee last week that a separate internal inquiry at Justice is almost done, but he would not promise to make all the results public.
Speaking of public scrutiny, you’ve probably never heard of Matthew Friedrich, Rita Glavin, Brenda Morris, Joseph Bottini, James Goeke or Edward Sullivan. But maybe more people should know them, and learn the various roles they played in a prosecution that not only trampled on the rights of the accused, but denied the people of Alaska a fair election and literally shifted the balance of power in the U.S. government.
That’s right, Stevens went on to lose his 2008 re-election bid and the man who won the election provided the margin for Obamacare. One vote in the Senate can be significant.
And regarding the subtext in the quoted paragraphs, five words come to mind: Mike Nifong and Duke Lacrosse.
Although the whole dreadful—no, criminal—misconduct was initiated under the Bush Justice Department, we’re now blessed by the most transparent Administration ever. Surely they will take action to correct this outrage.
Mr. Holder claims to have addressed the problems in the Stevens case by expanding training programs and the like.
When in doubt, blame training. What a laughable form of corrective action.
I’d instead suggest there are individuals and even pockets within the Justice Department bureaucracy that have—and pursue—their own agendas. In this case, since the rogue lawyers took the scalp of an unsympathetic Justice Department target, I’d expect no Nifong-like punishment, even though the magnitude of their crimes seems similar.
Expect Mr. Holder to ask for the Justice Department staff to be plussed-up to include more lawyers supervising other lawyers. And ignore the fact the existent lawyers already know what to do and what not do based on 1) the ethics of the profession and 2) the requirements of the very laws they are supposed to enforce.
Posted on March 17, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged Alaska, Brenda Morris, Edward Sullivan, Ethics, James Goeke, Joseph Bottini, Justice Department, Matthew Friedrich, Rita Glavin, Ted Stevens, Tragedy. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.