STEVENS CASE IN TROUBLE?….The government’s case against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who is accused of accepting free renovations to his “chalet” from a campaign donor, is in trouble because the prosecution has been withholding evidence from Stevens’ defense team:
The potentially exculpatory material involves remarks by the executive, Bill Allen, a key prosecution witness, who said he believed Stevens would have paid for the renovations if Allen had ever billed him. Attorneys for the government did not disclose those remarks until late yesterday.
In court this morning, prosecutor Brenda Morris acknowledged that the information should have been provided earlier but also argued that Stevens’s lawyers could still cross-examine Allen on what he had said.
“We admit we made a gross error, Your Honor,” Morris said. “. . . But there is no harm to the defendant.”
Well, this puts me in a pickle. The overall fact pattern suggests to me that Stevens really is guilty. On the other hand, prosecutorial misconduct is a cancer. It’s far more widespread than anyone ever likes to acknowledge, and one of the reasons is that judges usually let prosecutors off the hook for their misconduct with little more than a stern talking to. Frankly, having a high-profile case tossed out as a warning to the feds might not be such a bad idea. The judge will decide later today whether to declare a mistrial.