Voiding the Stevens Case

The Times reports on yesterday’s DOJ deision to “void” the case against Sen. Ted Stevens.

The case was one of the most high profile and bitterly fought in a string of corruption investigations into current and former members of Congress. But Justice Department lawyers told a federal court Wednesday that they had discovered a new instance of prosecutorial misconduct, on top of earlier disclosures that had raised questions about the way the case was handled, and asked that the convictions be voided.

 The Post has this editorial.

Gross breaches of law and fairness by prosecutors are the reason that Mr. Stevens will walk free. The Justice Department admitted that the lawyers from the Public Integrity Section who put Mr. Stevens on trial failed to turn over to defense lawyers information about contradictory statements by a key prosecution witness. An agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who worked on the case also recently alleged that prosecutors had been willfully withholding pertinent evidence from the defense team.

The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the trial prosecutors, and, although such proceedings are typically not made public, the department has agreed to share the results with Judge Sullivan. The department should also consider making them available to the public, which is entitled to know whether law enforcement officers gamed the system to guarantee a conviction.

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