A federal judge in D.C. ruled Wednesday that an unredacted copy of an independent report on prosecutorial misconduct during the federal investigation of the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) has to be made public by March 15.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said the report written by Henry F. Schuelke “chronicles significant prosecutorial misconduct in a highly publicized investigation and prosecution brought by the Public Integrity Section against an incumbent United States Senator.”
Sullivan has already broadly described the report, which found “significant, widespread, and at times intentional misconduct” by federal prosecutors on the Stevens case but does not recommend any prosecution for criminal contempt. Sullivan had ordered a copy of the report released by January, but lawyers for the parties involved had been objecting to that order. Sullivan restated in his Wednesday order that the public had the right to know what went wrong in the Stevens prosecution.
“The government’s ill-gotten verdict in the case not only cost that public official his bid for re-election, the results of that election tipped the balance of power in the United States Senate,” Sullivan wrote. “That the government later moved to dismiss the indictment with prejudice and vacate the verdict months after the trial does not eradicate the misconduct, nor should it serve to shroud that misconduct in secrecy.”
Withholding the report from the public and “leaving the public with only the information from the trial and immediate post-trial proceedings,” Sullivan wrote, “would be the equivalent of giving a reader only every other chapter of a complicated book, distorting the story and making it impossible for the reader to put in context the information provided. The First Amendment, the public, and our system of justice demand more.”
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee had pressed Attorney General Eric Holder to release a separate report from internal investigators at DOJ, which Holder said was in its final stages as of November.