Is it possible that the VP debate won’t be the biggest story in Alaska politics today?
The case against Sen. Ted Stevens threatened to collapse today when his attorney demanded a mistrial or dismissal of charges over the failure of the government to turn over evidence favorable to Stevens.
The chief prosecutor in the case apologized and called the error a mistake – though she asserted Stevens’ rights weren’t violated.
But for the second time in a week, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan reprimanded the government, this time accusing it of directly violating his orders. He sent the jury home for the day and ordered both sides to submit briefs on whether he should send jurors home for good.
A hearing is set for 4:30 p.m. EST (12:30 p.m. Alaska time) to determine whether to drop the case, declare a mistrial or continue on. A mistrial would allow the government to try Stevens again.
Man. That panda tie may have been lucky after all…. I’ll post more as I know.
UPDATE: Trial Continues!
WASHINGTON – Prosecutors have seriously bungled evidence and witnesses, but Sen. Ted Stevens’ corruption trial will proceed as planned, a federal judge ruled this afternoon.
The case against the Alaska Republican had threatened to collapse earlier in the day when his attorney demanded a mistrial or dismissal of charges over the government’s failure to turn over evidence favorable to the senator.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan was angered at prosecutors for their handling of evidence that might help Stevens’ case but was “not persuaded” the violations were serious enough to declare a mistrial. The trial will resume Monday.
Judge Sullivan asked whether the defense attorneys wanted a few extra days before continuing with the trial and suggested they could make a new opening statement to jurors.
“Thank you for asking, but we believe there should be a dismissal,” said Stevens’ chief lawyer, Brendan Sullivan. “If not a dismissal, then a mistrial.”
The chief prosecutor in the case apologized and called her team’s oversight a mistake, though she asserted that Stevens’ rights weren’t violated. The defense team was looking for weaknesses and found one, said Brenda Morris, the lead prosecutor on the Justice Department team.