Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Prosecutors Assigned To Handle Case Against Stevens

Feb. 17, 2009 – 10:05 a.m.
By Bart Jansen, CQ Staff

The Justice Department swapped prosecutors in the case against former Sen. Ted Stevens, after a judge cited several lawyers Feb. 13 for contempt.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan cited William M. Welch II, chief of the public integrity section, and Brenda Morris, his deputy who argued the case against Stevens (1968-2009), for failing to turn over documents to the defense, as Sullivan had ordered Jan. 21. The lawyers turned over the documents later that day.

Sullivan said he would postpone punishment for the others until the case is finished. But Sullivan decided not to hold another lawyer, Kevin Driscoll, in contempt because he had only joined the prosecution team recently.

In notifying the judge Monday that the documents had been provided, Welch and Morris said they would no longer handle litigation about alleged misconduct in the case. Instead, those issues will be litigated by Paul M. O’Brien, chief of the narcotics and drug section, and William Stuckwisch, senior trial attorney in the fraud section.

Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, was convicted Oct. 27 of seven felony charges for making false statements on his financial disclosure forms and for failing to report gifts to him and relatives.

But Stevens’ lawyers have alleged prosecutorial misconduct and argued that conviction should be overturned.

Sentencing has been postponed until those disputes are resolved.

Sullivan scheduled a hearing April 15 about how much more documentation the defense deserves about an FBI agent who reported that a colleague had an inappropriate relationship with a key witness in the case.

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