If at First You Don’t Succeed…

6 12 2008

This reminds me of that old piece of advice, “Ask for everything. The worst they can say is ‘No.'”

Ted Stevens’ lawyers have asked Judge Emmett Sullivan to overturn the jury’s verdict. That’s right, just toss the verdict out and rule for an acquittal.

And if he won’t do that, then they’ll settle for a new trial. In Alaska.

And if he won’t do that, then they’ll settle for a new trial.

AND they want 6 of the 7 felony counts dismissed because they are the same as the first felony count.

They also asked the judge to allow them to file some exhibits in support of their motions under seal because the exhibits refer to personal information about jurors and to the ongoing investigation by the government into political corruption in Alaska.

This might have something to do with Juror #9 who had “violent outbursts” during the deliberations, and whom all the other jurors wanted off the island. Or, it could have to do with Juror #4 who lied about her own father’s death, and skipped town to watch a horse race. Or, it could have to do with our favorite Juror #11 who has been talking to the press and keeping a blog that describes some interesting goings-on behind the scenes. And now, it appears that the defense has been doing some investigative work that reveals what they believe to be jurors who lied on their forms and failed to disclose relationships with the criminal justice system that could have made them prejudicial against Stevens, and politicians in general.

AND they say that Bill Allen, former CEO of Veco Corp, and key witness for the prosecution lied when he said that the friend of Stevens who was overseeing the renovation said, “Don’t worry about getting a bill. Ted’s just covering his ass.”

Under an earlier schedule set by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, the government has until Jan. 9 to respond to the defense’s post-trial motions. A hearing is set 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 ruled upon most if not all of the arguments before. However, they set out the basis for a likely appeal, and could also be used by advocates seeking a presidential pardon for Stevens to assert he was tried unfairly.

Like it or not, the Stevens trial continues. Trialophiles will want to read the entire article in todays Anchorage Daily News.





Ted Stevens Seeks New Trial

3 12 2008

Here we go. Ted Stevens’ lawyers have been busy, and they will soon file a motion seeking a new trial for Alaska’s outgoing senior senator. His recent trial which found him guilty on seven felony counts on failure to disclose gifts and home renovations on his Senate Disclosure Forms was fraught with…weirdness, for lack of a better term. A witness being sent back to Alaska early by the prosecution, evidence being withheld from the defense, a juror having violent outbursts and other jurors trying to vote her off the island, another juror fabricating a story of her own father’s death and skipping town to watch a horse race, a key witness coming forward and admitting he committed perjury and stating that the prosecution showed him documents he wasn’t supposed to see, the same witness revealing a supposed contract on his life from the star witness for the prosecution… If this were the plot of a legal thriller, we’d advise the author to tone it down a bit and make it believable. But real life, as it often happens, is stranger than fiction.

Stevens, who was defeated in a bid for a seventh full term, will ask Judge Emmet Sullivan to overturn his conviction on seven federal corruption counts for failing to disclose more than $250,000 in improper gifts.

Stevens’ defense team raised numerous objections to the Justice Department’s handling of his corruption trial, arguing that the government deliberately withheld potentially exculpatory information and witnesses during the proceedings.

In addition, a prosecution witness, David Anderson, said he was coached by prosecutors on his testimony prior to his appearance as the final government witness, and unofficially promised immunity for himself and his family and friends if he took the witness stand. Prosecutors have vehemently denied Anderson’s allegations. A hearing on Anderson’s claims, laid out in a letter to Judge Sullivan, will be the subject of a hearing next month.

Stevens’ attorneys have not actually filed their request for a new trial yet, but are asking leave from the judge to submit a lengthy motion, one that exceeds local court rules on how long such a document can be.

“The trial in this case took an entire month and gave rise to numerous legal disputes, including motions, evidentiary objections, and juror issues,” Stevens’ attorneys wrote. “The many legal issues cannot adequately be briefed within the local rule’s presumptive 45-page limit. Sen. Stevens accordingly requests this page-limit extension to address the many grounds for a new trial and to preserve these issues in the event of a potential appeal.”

So whatever the reasons the defense will give for asking for a new trial, we know that it will be more than 45 pages worth. My guess is that it will be a LOT more than 45 pages. And it will undoubtedly be a good read, if you’re in to that sort of thing. I’ve been saving a good bottle of wine…





Ted Stevens Corruption Timeline!

28 11 2008

Every once in a while, going through my usual rounds online, I come across an unexpected jewel.  This one came from TPM Muckraker in the form of a wonderfully organized and aesthetically pleasing  Ted Stevens Corruption timeline!

It’s a true tale of descent from Last Frontier Icon, to really old semi-pathetic felon. 

The chronology begins with the fateful line, “Sen. Ted Stevens mentions to his friend, VECO CEO Bill Allen, that his daughter could use a new car,” and it’s all down hill from there.

In reading through the chain of events, there were some details I had forgotten, like this marvelous quote from Stevens at the time of his indictment:

“This is an indictment for failure to disclose gifts that are controversial in terms of whether they were or were not gifts. It’s not bribery; it’s not some corruption; it’s not some extreme felony.”

I don’t know why I always get such a kick out of that quote.  No, he didn’t commit murder, or knock over a bank, or kidnap someone for ransom. And that makes us glad.  But by implication, we’re supposed to feel good that it’s just a garden variety felony, a minor felony, a felony hardly worth mentioning.  Whew!  Dodged a bullet, there.  I was worried for a minute. 

The timeline ends on November 20, 2008 when Stevens makes his last appearance on the Senate floor.  I’m hoping the timeline will continue with updates, because Stevens may be out, but the cadaveric spasms of his long career in Alaska politics continue.

David Anderson, the witness who said he lied under oath regarding an immunity deal, has also stated that the prosecution showed him documents before the trial that he wasn’t legally supposed to see.  Judge Emmett Sullivan, who undoubtedly had been hoping he’d seen the last of this trial has scheduled a hearing for Monday to determine whether Stevens’ attorneys can question Anderson, Allen’s nephew and a welder who worked on Stevens’ renovations….the one’s he ‘forgot’ to disclose on his financial disclosure forms.

The circumstances surrounding this sudden and startling confession of perjury from the penitent welder are still unclear.  Kind of like when you question the “Magic 8 Ball” and it tells you, “Reply hazy….try again later.”

We’ll try again on Monday.





Ted Stevens…To Pardon or Not to Pardon.

26 11 2008

The Bush administration is coming to an end, and at the end of the road for any administration is….the pardons. This particular presidential tradition is one that I find particularly abhorrent, and overused. It’s like a signing statement, only for people. The law applies, except if I decide it doesn’t.

The pardons at the end of the Clinton administration had me fuming for weeks. I’m sure I’ll feel the same or worse after the Bush pardons. But that’s just me.

The Anchorage Daily News today speculated about the pardon that’s on all Alaskans’ minds as January 20th draws near – Senator Ted Stevens. There are rumored to be three sets of pardons, one happening this week.

During his farewell speech on the Senate floor last week, Stevens made it clear he intends to continue his appeal, saying he can “still see the day when I can remove the cloud that currently surrounds me.” And just last week his lawyers continued their attack on the conduct of prosecutors in the case, by asking for a hearing, now scheduled for Monday, to examine a claim by one of the witnesses against Stevens that he was lying on the stand about an immunity deal.

Stevens also told a pack of news media “no, no, no” when asked the day he lost the election whether he would seek a pardon, but his spokesman, Aaron Saunders, said he wasn’t saying “no” to the idea. The senator was simply declining to answer the question, Saunders said.

Hmmm….  Sounds like a little post-“no no no” clean up work from the spokesman.   Alaskan spokespeople are getting really good at starting sentences with, “What s/he  meant to say was….”

Later that day, when asked by the Daily News to clarify his remarks, Stevens didn’t rule out seeking a pardon: “That’s something that’s beyond me,” he said, waving his hands as though to push the question aside. “That’s beyond me.”

He also said after the conviction that he wouldn’t be “seeking” a pardon, but we’ll note that he didn’t say  that he wouldn’t accept a pardon.  It’s all a big game of words.

The entire article is worth a read, and includes commentary from Wev Shea, the U.S. Attorney for Alaska from 1990-1993.  After you read it, I invite you to take the pardon polls below:





Juror #11 Revealed!

24 11 2008

Juror #11 at the Ted Stevens trial, the one who filled in as an alternate, after Juror #4 skipped town feigning the death of her father to attend a horse race, is talking to KTUU in Anchorage.

She’s also been blogging about the trial, and the posts are witty, irreverent and downright fascinating.  But she showed a more serious side as “Colleen Walsh”, (her real name), during the three segment interview.  You’ll have to sit through a really bad local commercial for Heritage Art & Frames three times, but here it is:

PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

The negative impression left by Stevens and his wife on the jurors was picked up by an observer at the trial who noted, “I think Ted’s toast.”

Yup.

Whether Stevens’ appeal goes anywhere remains to be seen, but there’s still plenty of courtroom drama left in this story.





Ted Stevens Prosecution Witness Says He Lied. And Wait…There’s More!

21 11 2008

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Three days after Mark Begich was declared the winner in Alaska’s Senate race of the century, and the day after Ted Stevens yielded the floor of the Senate for the last time, a chief witness for the prosecution in his recent trial came forward with some more than interesting statements.

David Anderson, a witness who testified against Ted Stevens has said in a letter to the Judge Emmett Sullivan that his claims on the stand that he never had an immunity deal with the prosecution were false.  Not only that, Anderson said that the prosecutors coached him and “instructed me on how to sugar coat (the immunity deal) and get it swept under the rug during the trial.”  He also claims that all members of his family and friends, including former State Senator Jerry Ward  would be immune from federal investigation as a result of his agreement.

Ward appears to have been the beneficiary of an illegal campaign contribution by private prison advocate Bill Weimar, who was sentenced to six months in prison this week on a guilty plea to making the payment. Ward has not been charged. The recipient of Weimar’s illegal $20,000 payment was identified in charging documents only as “Candidate A,” but the description matched Ward.

Today, defense attorneys filed the letter from Anderson, a welder who worked on the extensive renovations on the Stevens home that totalled almost $250,000, and which Stevens did not disclose on his Senate Disclosure Forms, leading to seven felony convictions, and his defeat in the general election.

There are only so many times you can say, “You can’t make this stuff up” in one post, so I’m going to save it for the end.  Because there’s more to come.  Really.

In addition to the above, Anderson goes on to talk about being coached, and “groomed” for the trial, and being reminded of the events that happened.  He was shown pictures of the home, paper records, and other materials that he states he had forgotten in the years since the work was done.

In the letter, he states:

Without the preparation from the prosecution and the reminders from them about my activities and the agreement I had with them about my family and myself I would not have given the same testimony.  Without a shadow of doubt I believe this trial would have gone much differently.

Wow.  A belated birthday present for Ted Stevens?  But wait, there’s more.

Possibly the most bizarre allegation in Anderson’s letter is the claim that Bill Allen, (chairman of the oil services company Veco, who was responsible for the home renovations that Stevens was found guilty of not declaring) and his son Mark Allen had taken out a contract on Anderson to have him murdered.  Anderson is Bill Allen’s nephew.  Think I’m ready to say “You can’t make this stuff up?” yet?  Nope.

Stevens’ attorneys demanded a hearing be held to look into the matter. In a court filing Friday, they said the Anderson letter, dated Nov. 15, was new evidence of government misconduct in the case. They’ve already said they planned to seek a new trial or to overturn Stevens’ conviction on Oct. 27 of lying on Senate disclosure forms.

Government prosecutors responded Friday that Anderson’s letter, “simply put,” is untrue. They said that defense lawyers had ample opportunity to question Anderson about the March affidavit when he was on the witness stand, but chose not to.

In the affidavit, the main subject of Anderson’s Nov. 15 letter, Anderson said he agreed to cooperate with the government on condition that prosecutor grant immunity to Ward and his wife Margaret, Ward’s three daughters and their husbands, Anderson’s mother and son, and several others who couldn’t be identified. Anderson lives with one of Ward’s daughters, Kirsten Deacon. She was once Bill Allen’s girlfriend and that fact is the cause of much of the friction between uncle and nephew, Anderson has said.

OK.  Now I’m ready.  You can’t make this stuff up.





The Curtain Goes Down on Ted Stevens.

21 11 2008

Today was the end of an era. Ted Stevens took the floor in the U.S. Senate for the last time. The first time was in 1968, before most Alaskans were born.

He actually did get voted out of office, but it took seven felony convictions, a strong centrist Democratic challenger, and an Alaskan Independence Party candidate endorsed by Ron Paul to do it. This is a good thing, because my only options had he won were wearing a bag on my head, or moving to Canada.

Last night, in downtown Anchorage, at the Snow City Cafe, Mark Begich celebrated his very belated victory with supporters. How could it have possibly taken this long? How could the race have been so close?

Listen to Ted Stevens’ farewell address.

As an Alaskan, albeit a left-leaning one, there have been times, I’ve actually felt sorry for Stevens. As I listened to him recount his experiences taking Alaska from a fledgling state with little infrastructure, to where it is today, with a highway system, hospitals, airports, and other things that improve the quality of life here, I had a moment of sadness. What a way to end his career. What a stupid mistake. What a shame.

Lost in this flickering moment of nostalgia, watching this old, beaten man, I heard the words “radical environmentalists” come out of his mouth.  I immediately snapped out of it, feeling like I’d been hit in the face with a wet fish.  I suddenly remembered what it is I can’t stand about this guy.

Then, as he finished up and yielded the floor for the last time, his Senate colleagues did something I have never seen.  The violated Senate protocol and gave the man a standing ovation, for almost a full minute.  That’s right United States Senators from across the nation, rose to their feet, and applauded a man who is stepping down, not because he is voluntarily handing the reins to a new generation, but because his seven felony convictions blew the election for him.

It was like watching the villagers cheering for the head on the pike.

The Stevens love-fest went on for some time, with contributions from both sides of the aisle.

“May all the roads that you have built, Ted, rise up to meet you,” said [Sen. Robert] Byrd in a variation of the Irish proverb. Byrd, 91, whose age has made him prone to outbursts on the Senate floor, shouted out “Amen, Amen!” while Stevens’ friend, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, spoke.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, described the close across-the-aisle friendship his own wife and Stevens’ wife have. Sometimes, Lieberman said, people forget that senators are “normal people” with ordinary homes and lives in Washington.

During the tribute, Stevens’ wife, Catherine, and his daughter Beth sat in the front row of the upper gallery of the Senate, surrounded by nearly 100 friends and staffers. Dozens more crowded in the seats lining the Senate chambers.

As Stevens concluded his remarks, many in the Senate gallery and all of the senators and aides on the floor of the Senate offered a standing ovation. Many of his staffers and friends walked out of the Senate chambers with red-rimmed eyes, dabbing at their tears.

While they applauded, Stevens sat. Then he stood, shaking hands with the longest-serving U.S. senator in history, Byrd, and the top two leaders of the Senate, Reid and McConnell. Finally, Stevens embraced Inouye, a man he called “his brother” during his speech.

“The Bible tells us, the Old Testament, two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor, for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow,” said Reid, the Senate majority leader, referring to the friendship between the two men from the 49th and 50th states.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, after the Bible quote, called Stevens a “lion” of the senate.

Is this the same Harry Reid that called for Stevens to step down and promised that if he were elected, and returned to the Senate, his colleagues would vote to expel him?

I’ve given up trying to figure out what kind of magic Ted Stevens has.  It’s like that old radio show….The Shadow.  It’s like Stevens has “traveled to the Orient and learned the secrets of clouding men’s minds.”  But I do feel better that it isn’t just Alaskans that have this cloud problem.  I just watched the majority of the United States Senate give a standing ovation to a convicted felon.

Why?  Only the Shadow knows……








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