Eric Holder Drops Charges Against Ted Stevens


I had an early appointment this morning, so didn’t get a chance to read the details on this until a few minutes ago. At first glance, it seems outrageous, but when you read Nina Totenberg’s article at NPR (which broke the story), it’s clear that the decision to void was justified:

A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. However, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.

In a move first reported by NPR, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.

“After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial,” Holder said in a statement Wednesday. “In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”

Holder’s complete statement:

“In connection with the post-trial litigation in United States v. Theodore F. Stevens, the Department of Justice has conducted a review of the case, including an examination of the extent of the disclosures provided to the defendant. After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.

“The Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility will conduct a thorough review of the prosecution of this matter. This does not mean or imply that any determination has been made about the conduct of those attorneys who handled the investigation and trial of this case.

“The Department of Justice must always ensure that any case in which it is involved is handled fairly and consistent with its commitment to justice. Under oftentimes trying conditions, the attorneys who serve in this Department live up to those principles on a daily basis. I am proud of them and of the work they do for the American people.”

The motion to set aside is here.

Lots of commentary at Memeorandum.

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