Thursday, April 9, 2009

White Collar: Judge in Stevens Case Appoints Special Prosecutor

After excoriating Department of Justice prosecutors for their conduct in the prosecution of former Alaska senator Ted Stevens, the presiding judge, District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged misconduct of the prosecutors. Earlier this week Attorney General Eric Holder had announced the dismissal charges against Stevens due to the prosecution team's failure to turn over evidence to the Stevens defense attorneys.

The court appointed Henry Schuelke III of Washington, DC, to investigate. Courts have legal authority to appoint counsel to investigate and prosecute cases of criminal contempt. It is unlikely that Schuelke could bring charges other than criminal contempt against the DOJ attorneys.

The Department's Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting an investigation also. If that investigation were to find wrongdoing by the prosecutors, a variety of other potential actions, both administrative and judicial could come into play. It is likely that both the court's investigation and that of DOJ will take some time to complete.

For further information please see The Miami Herald, "Stevens Prosecutors Blasted," April 8, 2009, p. 3A.

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