April 1, 2009

A.G. Eric Holder will void the conviction of Sen. Ted Stevens and dismiss the indictment.

Nina Totenberg reports:
The judge in the Stevens case has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he's called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. Things got so bad that the Justice Department finally replaced the trial team, including top-ranking officials in the office of public integrity. That's the department's section charged with prosecuting public corruption cases.

With more ugly hearings expected, Holder is said to have decided late Tuesday to pull the plug....

Holder's decision is said to be based on Stevens' age — he's 85 — and because Stevens is no longer in the Senate. Perhaps most importantly, Justice Department officials say Holder wants to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.

Holder began his career in the department's public integrity section; and, according to sources, he was horrified by the failure of prosecutors to turn over all relevant materials to the defense.
Good for Holder. This says nothing about Stevens's guilt or innocence, of course. This is about the insistence that those who wield power refrain from abuse.

46 comments:

Pogo said...

"This is about the insistence that those who wield power refrain from abuse."

That is in fact very good news, and unexpected as well.

Attorneys general in several states have made their bid for higher office based on high profile cases that all too often appear abusive (e.g. Spitzer in NY, Hatch in MN). IRS agents know they are untouchable. SWAT teams kick down doors and shoot innocent people without fear of punishment.

So count me pleasantly surprised.

Hoosier Daddy said...

This is about the insistence that those who wield power refrain from abuse

Indeed. Now if we can only extend that to Dodd, Rangel, Frank and the rest of Congress.

Peter V. Bella said...

Holder's decision is said to be based on Stevens' age — he's 85 — and because Stevens is no longer in the Senate.

So, if Stevens was not elderly and still in the Senate, Holder would have excused the misconduct?

Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to say the decision was based on it being the right thing to do?

Peter V. Bella said...

HD,
Those rogues, pirates, rapscallions, looters, and political criminals will never see a cell. They are the new heroes of the RepubiK. They are solving the probems. The ones they created. The media loves them. Anyone the media loves cannot be evil; can they?

traditionalguy said...

This is a great move by Holder. He gets to be seen as ethical, instead of political, in his first chance to make "the first impression". This is news because the Dems did not reward bad conduct. Like man bites dog is news. Now let's see if he goes after Dodd and Frank for corruption. The Obama method is to eliminate the older generation of Dems that may be an embarrasment to him.He wants his own Party.

MadisonMan said...

One less convicted felon in ex-Senatorial ranks. I suppose that's heartening, and I'm glad for his family.

garage mahal said...

Bet it would be different if Stevens was a Democrat.

dick said...

Now where does Stevens go to get his reputation that the Dems demolished back. And do the voters in Alaska get a do-over on the election.

Not a big Stevens supporter but this was played for an electoral ploy and Stevens deserves to get it decided in his favor somehow if the prosecutors are this lame. Either convict or declare innocent.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Bet it would be different if Stevens was a Democrat.

Of course it would be different. He'd had never been prosecuted to begin with had he had a (D) after his name.

MadisonMan said...

Nice try Hoosier, but I think if a convicted felonious ex-Senator who also happened to be a Democrat had his (or her) conviction voided by the AG, the umbrage would be loud and long.

As for Stevens getting his reputation back, what reputation?

Mr. Forward said...

Oh he may be weary
them lawyers they do get wearied
hearing that same old argument
but when it gets weary
you try a little tenderness
Old man that
un hunh
i know he's waiting
just anticipating
the thing that youll never never process
no no no
but while your debating
try just a little bit of tenderness
that's all you got to do
now it might be a little bit senatorial no
but he has his griefs and care
but the indictments they are spoke so gentle
yeah yeah yeah
and it makes it easier to bear
oh he won't regret it
no no
them young lawyers don't forget it
love is their whole happiness
yeah yeha yeah
but it's all so easy
all you got to do is try
try a little tenderness
yeah
that's not hard
all you got to do is know how to love him
you've got E.
Holder,
squeeze him
never leave him
now forgive him got got got to try a little tenderness
yeah yeah
lord have mercy now
all you got to do is take my advice
you've got Holder
to squeeze him
never leave him
you've got Holder
at Justice
so you must try Ted Stevens less
a little tenderness
a little tenderness
you've got to
got to got to
you've canna hold him
don't squeeze him
never leave him
you got
got got got to
now now now
got got got to
try a little tenderness
yeah yeah
tenderness
tenderness
you got got got
you got to
don't hold him
Stevens
never leave him
got got got got got got got
tenderness...

MadisonMan said...

Speaking of things Alaskan, Here is mother Nature's commentary on Stevens :)

Invisible Man said...

There ain't a snow ball's chance in hell that Republicans would ever be this fair minded to opponents. So the next time, you think to write how mean liberals are, contrast the treatment of Stevens with the railroading of Sieglman in Alabama.

Pogo said...

garage, I think Stevens is guilty as hell. He's lucky not to be in jail.

But our Constituion mandates that the state has to prove it, rather than merely declare it so.

The prosecutors sound as incompetent as the buffoons at the OJ murder trial.

garage mahal said...

Pogo
I agree with everything you said. Would you have posted that same train of thought though if Stevens were a Democrat?

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

So it boils to to the fact that teh dems have teh senate, which was their goal, so now they don't need to prosecute Stevens, so they back off.

Plus, if they retry him honestly, there is a chance he can be aquited and cleared. This way, he still has the cloud.

"Yeah he's guilty, it was just the AUSA cheated, so they let him go".

How would I feel if it was a Democrat? Hell, lets put one in the dock (FINALLY) and I'll let you know.

traditionalguy said...

As I recall the reports, this one was a political hit posing as a trial. The Senator who influences the awards of business to a contractor also happens to have some work done on his home and the contractor forgets to send a bill for a part of the work. Later the Feds flip the contractor on some other fraud charge and offer him a benefit to give them Stevens head on a platter. The trial will be one of who do you believe, the crooked contractor or the Senator who never got billed for some of the work. It could go either way. Then the Prosecutors took it upon themselves to cheat as much as possible in court, like Stevens supposedly cheated by influence peddling. No harm no foul, since the election is over now, and that was the only goal, to eliminate Stevens vote. The Feds are 99% political in the high profile cases that you see in the papers. They only want to destroy a target, and they usually do it.

Pogo said...

" Would you have posted that same train of thought though if Stevens were a Democrat?"

I can understand why you'd express disbelief if I answered yes.

But I would feel much better if those guilty of these show trials, SWAT errors, and AG loose cannon persecutions would face some serious jail time.

Because I'm a conservative, not a GOP shill. Screw that.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Nice try Hoosier, but I think if a convicted felonious ex-Senator who also happened to be a Democrat had his (or her) conviction voided by the AG, the umbrage would be loud and long.

Sorry MM, I forgot to add a sarcasm tag on that comment.

garage mahal said...

I can understand why you'd express disbelief if I answered yes.

If?

Salamandyr said...

Sounds like Holder did the right thing. And there's really not much point throwing an 85 year old man in jail, especially when he's been removed from the position of power that allowed him to abuse our trust in the first place.

It wouldn't have bothered me throwing Stevens in jail though. It's not like he didn't deserve it. I just wish there was some hope that some of our other Senators of "flexible" moral fiber were going to be prosecuted.

Pogo said...

Heh.

Yes.

David said...

The abuse of power by prosecutors does not necessarily follow party lines. True, Spitzer and Blumenthal are Democrats, but the temptation is there on both sides. This is a good decision by Mr. Holder. However, I would like to see the offending prosecutors fired, which might send enough of a message that it would inhibit similar conduct by others. It won't stop the elected prosecutors like Spitzer and Cuomo. The voters and the press (don't hold your breath) will have to sort that one out.

Fen said...

Invis: There ain't a snow ball's chance in hell that Republicans would ever be this fair minded to opponents.

Sure there is. We did it with Clinton - not blaming him publicly for dicking around with staff while Al Queda plotted 9-11.

garage mahal said...

LOL

Hoosier Daddy said...

And there's really not much point throwing an 85 year old man in jail, especially when he's been removed from the position of power that allowed him to abuse our trust in the first place.

Well I disagree. If his age was no barrier to being a Senator, it shouldn't preclude him from serving time for being a criminal.

To echo Pogo, I'm a conservative, not a party shill. Stevens made me sick considering what an officious prick he was all the way to the very end as if he, Senator Ted Stevens was above all this.

Fen said...

Invis: There ain't a snow ball's chance in hell that Republicans would ever be this fair minded to opponents

Seriously. You want a pat on the back for adhering to the rule of law? Okay then: "Nice job. You didn't convict a corrupt sob who should have been taken out back and shot. We're all so very proud of you."

Invisible Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Invisible Man said...

Seriously. You want a pat on the back for adhering to the rule of law? Okay then: "Nice job. You didn't convict a corrupt sob who should have been taken out back and shot. We're all so very proud of you."


I asked for no pat on the back. I just wanted to point out how nice it is to have people in power who aren't completely concerned with their power. Republicans are unwilling to come to grips with the contrast of a Bush Administration that went after their political enemies with prosecutions (the basis for AG firing scandal), while Obama already shows that he's willing to act on principle rather than just raw politics, which both sides should be doing anyway.

Democrats aren't angels either, but I doubt you'd hear many Dem. Senators willing to start "World War III" to keep out a Senator for years just because they don't like him, as Sen. Cornyn is.

dick said...

The Dem senators don't prosecute their criminals. They just keep re-electing them and giving them positions of power.

Bruce Hayden said...

Here is an example of prosecutorial misconduct by the CT AG concerning his investigation of the AIG bonuses:

BECK: Is that against the law?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, it is against public policy. And it is unsanctioned by law.

BECK: Is that against the law?

BLUMENTHAL: It should be against the law.

BECK: Is it against the law?

BLUMENTHAL: It's against the public policy and against the taxpayer...In my view it is unrequired by law.

BECK: It is a yes or no question. Counselor, it is a yes or no question. Is it against the law?

BLUMENTHAL: It is not against the law and I have never said that it is against the law, and I have never said that we would bring an action.

BECK: Then you know what you should do? You should enforce the law. You shouldn't use your bully pulpit to gain popularity.


Bully for Holder, doing the right thing.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I just wanted to point out how nice it is to have people in power who aren't completely concerned with their power.

You actually said this with a straight face? I guess the Obama administration didn't really mean it when it uttered the 'Never let a crisis go to waste.'

mariner said...

"This is about the insistence that those who wield power refrain from abuse."

Baloney.

The operative phrase is, "With more ugly hearings expected ..."

Because the result would be that we would learn more about the dishonest efforts the Justice Department made to target a high-profile Republican -- not because he was a crook (I believe he was) -- but because he is a high-profile Republican.

Meanwhile, Cold Hard Cash Jefferson, Rangel and numerous other high-profile crooked Democrats go unprosecuted.

And of course the prosecution was successful -- Stevens is no longer a U.S. Senator.

Why, someone more cynical than myself might begin to wonder if the Justice Department is (gasp) POLITICIZED!

Zeb Quinn said...

This says nothing about Stevens's guilt or innocence, of course.

I dunno. It's been my experience and observation that repeated instances prosecutorial misconduct in a given case usually goes hand-in-hand with their lack of a winning case playing it straight up. Just about an axiomatic thing in fact.

Grumpy said...

H-m-m. The [accused] goes free because the "constables" have blundered.

"This is about the insistence that those who wield power refrain from abuse."

Or is this about the unwarranted deliverance from prosecution of a senior member of a systemically corrupt legislative body?

Fen said...

Invis: I asked for no pat on the back. I just wanted to point out how nice it is to have people in power who aren't completely concerned with their power.

Uh, this was a politically motivated investigation from the start, but your guy was so corrupt and incompetent that the conviction is being dismissed. And you're counting that as a win?


Thats your spin? I guess that also explains why "top-ranking officials in the office of public integrity" were replaced. Obama was being "gracious".

Methadras said...

Of course it doesn't say anything about the guilt or innocence of Senator InterTubes, but the problem is that now we will never know. Ever. Not only on top of that, it affected the outcome of a very important election and changed a political landscape in the Senate. What I didn't read was what is going to happen to the prosecutorial misconduct of the agents and prosecutors involved who knowing tampered and fabricated evidence? I'm not even going to go the conspiracy route because that would be just nuts, but to not think that this was calculated to affect the outcome of his campaign would be naive.

traditionalguy said...

The pardon given by Holder may also have a bearing on the treatment of Dodd and Frank who also are supposed to turn in Disclosures of gifts. Should Dodd's special interest rate loan "given" by Countrywide Mortgage have been on his gift reports. If not, can he be prosecuted for Perjury? I expect that many Dems will have similar exposures by the Dems themselves. This Stevens precedent can tone down how Dodd's resignation will be negotiated.

Cedarford said...

dick said...
Now where does Stevens go to get his reputation that the Dems demolished back. And do the voters in Alaska get a do-over on the election.


Alaskan voters had a chance to look at the details and hear Stevens defense as he desperately campaigned for his powerful place on Appropriations. Voters knew Stevens was a bit dirty and corrupt, but he transcended that into being an embarassment for Alaska. Like Louisiana and New Jersey, Alaska woke up a few years ago to the fact that "good old boys" had corrupted processes everywhere. Palin became Governor mainly because voters wanted a shakeup.

Stevens has nowhere to go, like his Bridge, to get his reputation back. He will be remembered there with fondness for all the good things he did before he became an embarassment, though. He had a long career. Just as people over time are weighing Nixon, and realizing that Watergate was not all the mark of the man. Nixon did much good, probably made America and the world a much better place for his efforts..

dick said...

Traditiional Guy,

What pardon? Holder did not give him a pardon at all. He just said that the prosecutors had screwed up so badly that they would probably not be able to get a conviction so he was just dropping the case. That means that Stevens is not found guilty nor is he found innocent. He is in limbo and thus those who support him will talk about how he was railroaded and those who don't will talk about he just got lucky and he shoulda gone to jail. Those of us who think he was probably guilty of something will not get an answer to the question at all.

The question now is what is Holder going to do about the prosecutors who screwed this up so badly. He needs to do something about that situation and soon or the whole Justice Department will be even more of a laughing stock than it currently is. He also needs to try to do it without "politicizing" it any more than this administration has tried to politicize it so far - and that is really far. It will be interesting to see if he is able to do this. I don't see it with his current crop of staff.

Peter V. Bella said...

Um, Dick, I agree about TG's pardon mistake, but you missed something very, very important. Stevens was found guilty at trial and was awaiting sentencing. As of now, his guilt is established.

OTOH, Holder knew that the judge coud set aside the conviction due to prosecutorial misconduct, or if Stevens appealed, he would prevail. He did the best thing to do to minimize loss and further embarrassment. Now he has to deal with the miscreants. Since this is a kinder and gentler government, they will probably get a time out or something.

traditionalguy said...

Dick... Holder's action of dismissing the indictment is a full Pardon because the accused's status went from a convict (under appeal) to a citizen with no conviction, and no jeopary of an accusation of any other crime arising from Stevens' actions known to the prosecutor's office at the time of the indictment. Double Jeopardy rules attached long ago. There will be no appeal resulting in a re-trial. Stevens is completely cleared. That's what I call a pardon.

traditionalguy said...

The idea that Stevens is "guilty of something" is not an arguement available ever again. Your protests that if he is innocent, that he probably needs to go to jail for something anyway is a dangerous doctrine. Think about it when you make some powerful enemies someday yourself.

Revenant said...

Holder began his career in the department's public integrity section

Was this before or after he helped Marc Rich buy a pardon off Bill Clinton?

Eli Blake said...

Uh, the prosecutors in the case were appointed by the Bush justice department.

So if you're saying it was a 'political hit' then it was from a round firing squad.

Had Holder allowed the charade to continue he'd have shared in the blame, but since he didn't you have a tough time saying that he bears any of the responsiblity.

peter hoh said...

Palin, who earlier wanted Stevens to drop out of the Senate race, now wants Begich to resign and have a special election to fill the seat.