Amid Controversy, DOJ Replaces Prosecutors in Sen. Stevens Case
Posted Feb 17, 2009 8:42 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The Justice Department has replaced the legal team that prosecuted U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens after a federal judge said he would hold prosecutors in contempt for failing to comply with a court order to turn over documents.
A court filing reveals that the legal team will no longer participate in post-trial proceedings regarding alleged misconduct in the case, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The “scope of the decision” is unclear, the article says.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued the contempt finding after he learned there was no reason why prosecutors delayed turning over court documents regarding an FBI whistle-blower who claimed government misconduct in the case. “Isn't the Department of Justice taking court orders seriously these days?" he asked. Sullivan later removed trial attorney Kevin Driscoll from the contempt order since he was brought into the case more recently, The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times reported.
The other three lawyers targeted by Sullivan are William Welch II, the chief of the DOJ's public integrity section; Brenda Morris, the section's principal deputy chief, who is lead prosecutor in the Stevens case; and Patricia Stemler, the chief of the Criminal Division’s appellate section. Welch, Morris and four other lawyers will no longer participate in the case, the story says.
The whistle-blower, FBI agent Chad Joy, claims prosecutors tried to conceal evidence in the case and alleges another agent had an improper relationship with the government’s star witness. Stevens was convicted for failing to report gifts, including home improvements.