Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Senator Stevens Vindicated?

In a shocking move, the Justice Department has asked that the convictions against former Senator Stevens (R-AK) be vacated. I am disturbed because it is readily apparent that if the case had not been brought, or had been dropped before the election, he would almost certainly have been re-elected. Given the embarassment this causes to everyone involved, it is hard to imagine any attorney general doing this unless he were certain that the prosecutorial misconduct was manifest. It is harder yet to imagine a Democrat vindicating a Republican ex-officeholder under these circumstances, unless it were a foregone conclusion.

So what happened in the Stevens case? The real question left is whether the prosecutors were motivated by the "game" of the trial (to win, win, win at all costs), by the lure of publicity, or by political motivations. Political motivations of a partisan type seem unlikely, as it was the Bush-appointed justice department that prosecuted Stevens. Was there some internecine Republican problem with Stevens? There is no evidence of this.

I think at this stage, the most reasonable conclusion is that the Stevens case was exemplary of the Bush/Ashcroft/Gonzalez/Mukasey justice department: shoddy work by poorly qualified attorneys, the convictionthat the ends justify any means, and the belief that accused persons are all guilty criminals who don't deserve rights.

What's worse is that Stevens probably is guilty of concealing these "gifts" (read: bribes) anyway. What a shame.


USwest said...

Well, if you are a really cyncial Republican, you are messy with the prosecution on purpose. You want to look like you are doing something for public consumption, especially if the evidence is so clear that you can't avoid it and if the Justice Departement is in so much trouble already, you can't afford more.

But since Stevens is your guy, you are a little sloppy hoping the whole thing will be dismissed in the end on technicalities. And by that time, you'll have handed the mess over to the Democrats. They may have miscalculated that Stevens had enough support back home that the case wouldn't hurt him.Remember that he was running pretty well until the indictment. And he may not have lost the race had McCain not run Palin.

Palin may have depressed Republican support in Alaska and that may have benefited the Democrats in the Senate race. My log-cabin Republican uncle voted for Obama because he couldn't bring himself to go for McCain after the Palin pick. I don't know how he voted for Senate.

Of course, I have no research to back up my supposition. I am just blow harding here.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I disagree. The idea that this was intentionally designed to produce this outcome makes no sense. Who benefits from having Stevens convicted, having him lose the election, then clearing his name? You would have to believe that he wouldn't lose the election if convicted, which is a lot of gambling to do with a very very powerful senator from your own party. I don't buy it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with US West...I think they sabotaged their own case..that is the pay back, he doesn't go to jail, but since he is like a million years old, he can't be a senator anymore and he is guilty of taking these gifts, at least the ones we know about. To think that this kind of thing is not managed and deals are not cut off line in this fraternity known as the senate and US Govt., is entirely naive.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I disagree. The idea that someone would orchestrate his own conviction and loss of office in this manner makes no sense.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I agree with LTG. Incompetence is almost always the simplest and most likely theory. The next most likely theory is usually some sort of infighting or personal grudge. The least likely theory is some form of elaborate conspiracy.

In this case, the incompetence of the Justice Department under Bush is well documented, and as LTG says, there is no evidence so far of any "internecine Republican problem" with Stevens. I figure Stevens was guilty the prosecutors just botched it--simple as that.

Raised By Republicans said...

I think LTG and Dr. S are on the right track here. The practices that lead to the current Attorney General dropping the case were very similar to the kinds of things I've heard about happening in dozens of federal cases from a friend of mine who was a federal defense attorney (working mainly on immigration cases in California). Prosecutors routinely disobeyed judicial instructions, violated disclosure requirements and otherwise played fast and loose with the rules intended to protect the presumption of innocence. But, says my friend, they all went to prayer meetings at their offices before work began.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I seriously hope this betokens a new (or rather, old) spirit at the DOJ, that they are acting on a public trust, not a partisan or religious crusade.

Anonymous said...

Not really saying Stevens had any part in knowing what would happen, the Bush DOJ sabotaged the case knowing what would happen. The Bush DOJ, knew Stevens would get busted and there was no cover up or excuse or pardon available politically at the time and Bush was a lame duck, so , if you want one of your frat brothers to get off clean, you do what they did, knowing he would get the conviction overturned.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Yes, but it's that "knowing" part that I don't see. The misconduct by the prosecutors was not bad enough for the judge to call a mistrial, and he noticed it. Under those circumstances, affirmance by an appellate court is the more likely result. Moreover, the result should be re-trial, not acquittal! What Eric Holder (AG) did in announcing they were not only going to vacate the conviction but drop the case had a very small chance of occurring. So I just don't buy that anyone was "planning" on this happening.

If prosecutors want to bungle a case to get the guy off, all they need to do is do a poor job. They don't need to go through the effort of possibly getting themselves canned for misbehavior.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough.