New DOJ Evidence Debacle: AG Says Gov’t Disclosure Dubious in 2 More Alaska Cases
Posted Jun 5, 2009 6:07 PM CST
By Martha Neil
In the latest prosecutorial embarrassment for the U.S. Department of Justice, the DOJ has admitted it may have fouled up concerning the required pre-trial provision of exculpatory evidence in the cases of two Alaska lawmakers.
In a filing yesterday in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the DOJ asks that former Republican state representatives Peter Kott and Victor Kohring be released from prison and that their cases be remanded to U.S. District Court for further action, reports Bloomberg.
The filing says material has been found “that, at this stage, appears to be information that should have been, but was not, disclosed” prior to the trial of Kott and Kohring, the news agency recounts. It doesn't disclose what specific material wasn't provided.
According to court records, four of the same federal prosecutors involved in the 2007 bribery and corruption convictions of the two lawmakers were also assigned to the botched prosecution of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Bloomberg reports. The DOJ declined to comment on their employment status. Two of the four worked for the U.S. attorney's office in Anchorage; the other two worked for the DOJ's public integrity section.
“After a careful review of these cases, I have determined that it appears that the department did not provide information that should have been disclosed to the defense,” says U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a press release.
"Department of Justice prosecutors work hard every day and perform a great service for the American people," Holder continues. "But the Department’s mission is to do justice, not just win cases, and when we make mistakes, it is our duty to admit and correct those mistakes. We are committed to doing that."“The department’s mission is to do justice, not just win cases, and when we make mistakes, it is our duty to admit and correct those mistakes.”
John Henry Browne, who represents Kohring, tells Bloomberg that he wrote Holder a month ago bringing to the AG's attention two documents that he didn't receive from prosecutors that would have been helpful to the defense. In response, the DOJ contacted Browne yesterday, saying that they had uncovered additional exculpatory material that wasn't provided, the news agency recounts.
Additional and related coverage:
Associated Press: "Justice Department admits new mistakes"
Wall Street Journal (sub. req.): "Justice Calls for Release of Alaska Ex-Lawmakers"
ABAJournal.com: "Special Prosecutor to Investigate Government Lawyers in Sen. Stevens Case"
ABAJournal.com: "Federal Judge Sanctions US $600K for Secretly Taping Defense Lawyer"
ABAJournal.com: "Jury Acquits W.R. Grace and Former Execs in Landmark Criminal Asbestos Case"