Stevens asks for new trial in Alaska

Richard Mauer

Defense lawyers today cited 17 reasons that U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' monthlong trial was unfair, flawed or prejudiced against him and asked that he be tried anew, this time in Alaska.

The motion for a new trial, filed this afternoon in Washington, D.C., was accompanied by a separate motion asking the judge in the case to overrule the jury and direct an acquittal, voiding the verdict in which Stevens was convicted Oct. 27 of seven counts of failure to disclose gifts and other benefits.

Stevens' lawyers also renewed a pretrial motion to dismiss six of the seven counts as duplications of the first. They also asked the judge to allow them to file some exhibits under seal because the exhibits refer to personal information about jurors and the ongoing investigation by the government into political corruption Alaska.

Under an earlier schedule set by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, the government has until Jan. 9 to respond to post-trial motions. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25.

In asking for a new trial, the defense lawyers said Stevens' trial was fatally flawed with false evidence presented by the government, improper hearsay evidence from a witness who was the "linchpin" of the government's case, and by jurors who lied to the court and were prejudiced from the start against politicians.

Such post-trial motions are common in criminal trials but rarely succeed before the trial judge, who has heard most if not all of the arguments over the course of the trial. However, they set out the basis for a likely appeal and could also be used by advocates seeking a presidential pardon of Stevens to assert he was tried unfairly.

The motion for a new trial was accompanied by a hefty, 78-page legal memorandum. The defense had to request permission to exceed the district court's 45-page limit and had gotten an OK for 75 pages.

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