The judge in the Ted Stevens case has granted the government’s motion to drop the charges against the former Alaska senator — but not before slamming the government prosecutors on the case.
“In nearly 25 years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case,” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said at a hearing on the government’s motion, reports the Associated Press.
Sullivan was referring to a string of cases of prosecutorial misconduct in the case, including withholding key evidence from defense lawyers, which ultimately convinced Attorney General Eric Holder to request that the charges be dropped. Stevens was convicted last fall of failing to report on his Senate disclosure form hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts from a supporter.
Indeed, Sullivan went further. He read a primer on criminal procedure — “the kind of rudimentary lecture students normally receive during their first year of law school” says the AP — then said he had seen a trend of prosecutors withholding evidence, specifically mentioning cases at Guantanamo Bay. He even called on Holder to order training for all prosecutors.
As for Stevens, he said that the mishandling of the case by DOJ had led him to question his faith in the judicial system, but that now that the charges were being thrown out, that faith has been restored.