The judge who presided over former Sen. Ted Stevens' trial last fall issued two orders Sunday indicating he may not be ready to give up jurisdiction of the case even as the government is asking for all charges to be dismissed.
In the first of the unusual weekend orders, filed at 5:22 p.m. Eastern time (1:22 p.m. Alaska time) in Washington, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan directed federal prosecutors to provide him copies of everything they had gathered in the post-trial reviews and investigations and which they had provided to Stevens' defense attorneys. He also directed them to provide everything they had uncovered and produced related to the complaint by Anchorage FBI agent Chad Joy into the conduct of the Alaska corruption investigation and the prosecution of Stevens' case.
Sullivan also demanded the notes of prosecutors from an April 15, 2008, interview of former Veco Corp. chief executive Bill Allen.
It was the discovery of those notes two weeks ago by a new prosecution team that led Attorney General Eric Holder to seek dismissal of all charges against Stevens "in the interest of justice." The notes directly contradicted a key piece of Allen's testimony six months later at Stevens' trial and should have been turned over to the defense, Holder said.
Sullivan directed prosecutors to produce the information no later than 10 a.m. Eastern time today.
At 8:42 p.m., 3½ hours after filing his first order, Sullivan issued another order directing the Justice Department, the FBI, the IRS "and any and all other government agencies" that investigated or prosecuted Stevens to not destroy any evidence or documents connected to the case. His order demanded preservation of e-mails, notes, memos, investigative files, audio recordings and "any and all electronically stored information."
The orders were issued by Sullivan on his own, without a request by either party.
Stevens was convicted Oct. 27 on six counts of lying on his Senate disclosures and a seventh count of scheming to prevent discovery of his false statements.
Over the course of Stevens' five-week trial, Sullivan grew increasingly frustrated with prosecutors for failing to turn over evidence in a timely manner to Stevens' lawyers, eventually stripping some aspects of the case as a sanction. After the trial, when prosecutors continued to withhold information from Stevens' defense, Sullivan held three of them in contempt. The Justice Department replaced them with another team, and it was those lawyers who discovered and reported the notes of the April 15, 2008, interview with Allen.
Joy's complaint surfaced in late November. It criticized the conduct of the lead agent in the case, and said that prosecutors deliberately withheld information from Stevens' defense during the trial.
Sullivan had planned to announce a decision at a hearing April 15 about whether to call Joy to testify about his complaint as requested by Stevens' lawyers. The lawyers also wanted to hear from a government witness who said after the trial that he gave false testimony about whether he had gotten immunity for himself and his family and friends.
The Justice Department's motion last week to dismiss all charges against Stevens seemed to render that April 15 hearing moot. But the orders Sunday may indicate Sullivan isn't ready to let go of the matter and will continue to review the government's conduct.
He scheduled a hearing on Tuesday to hear the motion to dismiss the case.