Judge sides with Stevens lawyers

PAGE COUNT: Defense gets more space to argue for new trial.

December 3, 2008 

Sen. Ted Stevens' legal defense team will have a lot to say when it argues he should have a new trial -- so much so, they've asked the judge to allow them to submit a legal memorandum of 75 pages, 30 more than usually allowed in the D.C. district courts.

With a filing deadline of Friday approaching, defense counsel Craig Singer, who specialized in arguing motions during Stevens' trial, told U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan that the complexities of the case required more than average paper content.

"The trial in this case took an entire month and gave rise to numerous legal disputes, including motions, evidentiary objections, and juror issues," Singer wrote in a filing Tuesday.

In a tongue-in-cheek objection, Brenda Morris, the chief prosecutor in the case, replied Wednesday in what she termed a "brief opposition" -- a response of a single paragraph. She asserted the defense should be able to accomplish what it needed in 45 pages. Most of the issues expected to be raised by Stevens in his argument for a new trial were already argued and ruled upon before and during the trial, she said.

It didn't take Sullivan long to read the government reply. Eight minutes after the government filed, he granted the defense its wish. He also allowed the government to use the long-form approach in its response, due Jan. 9.

A hearing on the motion for a new trial -- a prerequisite to an appeal -- is set for Feb. 25. By then, the question of a pardon by President Bush will be long resolved.

Stevens was convicted in October of seven counts of failing to disclose about $250,000 in gifts and services from 1999 to 2006. A week later, Alaska voters turned him out of office after representing the state for 40 years. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

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