Our View: Special prosecutor's report tells sorry tale of Stevens case

March 17, 2012 

In a 514-page report, federal special prosecutor Henry Schuelke spells out how federal lawyers gave Alaskans and the nation the opposite of what we thought we were getting in the trial of the late Sen. Ted Stevens.

Alaskans thought we were getting justice, without fear or favor, without regard for rank, privilege or position. Stevens was convicted of accepting excessive gifts in the form of work on his Girdwood home run by former Veco president Bill Allen, himself convicted on corruption charges.

Allen was the key figure in the Alaska political scandal that came to light in 2006 and in subsequent months after investigations by the FBI and the Justice Department's Office of Public Integrity. Alaska lawmakers went to prison -- although the courts have found fault with some of those prosecutions as well.

The very people charged with carrying out justice didn't. They have pleaded a lack of time and poor case management. A speedy trial in a complex, politically charged case did present a challenge. But that was no reason to deny Sen. Stevens the same right that every American holds -- the right to a fair trial. Think of the names of the offices involved here -- Public Integrity, Professional Responsibility.

Stevens didn't get a fair trial, didn't get a trial characterized by integrity and responsibility. And that was the fault of the prosecution. Whatever one thinks of Stevens' relationship with Bill Allen, or of the Justice Department's mismanagement, the subsequent dismissal of the case was right.

Both legislation introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski and a thorough ongoing investigation within the Justice Department should aim to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

BOTTOM LINE: Stevens' prosecutors withheld evidence, denied justice.

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