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August 2009


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Some Fed Prosecutors Think Atty. Gen. Holder Sold Out in Ted Stevens Case

This controversy is far from over. But apparently some prosecutors outside of Washington feel Atty. Gen. Eric Holder bowed to politics when he dismissed the Ted Stevens case. Are they right? Or was Holder just trying to do the right thing?
Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

By Dan Levine
The Legal Pad

When Attorney General Eric Holder dismissed all charges against former Republican Senator Ted Stevens in March, he won plaudits from several quarters – including the New York Times editorial page – for putting the law above politics.

A few career federal prosecutors perceive the decision more cynically, however. Stevens, a longtime senator from Alaska, had been convicted on seven counts by a Washington, D.C., jury for lying on a financial disclosure form.

But prosecutors soon came under fire from the trial judge for failing to turn over interview notes to the defense, which an FBI whistleblower alleged was intentional. Those disclosures led Holder to toss the conviction and announce that Stevens would not be retried.

Despite the allegations, prosecutors contacted by The Recorder in three federal districts outside D.C. – who requested anonymity because they currently work for the Justice Department – said Holder’s decision rankled, partly because no official determination had yet been communicated to the field as to whether the DOJ personnel on the Stevens case truly acted in bad faith.

The department’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating, along with a special counsel appointed by the trial judge. If it turns out that the disclosure failures had been a mistake, then Stevens should not have been let off the hook without a retrial, these prosecutors believe.

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