Ex-Alaska Lawmaker Denied New Trial, Despite Prosecutorial Errors
By Andrew Ramonas | February 10, 2010 5:54 pm

A federal judge in Alaska this week rejected another motion for a new trial or dismissal of charges for a former state lawmaker convicted of corruption in a 2007 case that included errors by federal prosecutors.

Pete Kott (AKRepublicans.org)

U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick denied a motion filed late last month by a lawyer for former Alaska House Speaker Pete Kott (R) to dismiss the charges against him or have a new trial for him since the lawyer received new documents pertaining to the case. Late last month, his lawyer received handwritten notes made during Justice Department and FBI meetings with the attorney who represented a key government witness who admitted bribing Kott.

Earlier last month, Kott’s lawyer filed another motion for dismissal statement filed last month, citing new DOJ guidelines that encourage prosecutors to list all witness interviews and keep their rough notes. Sedwick also rejected this motion.

U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick wrote in a court order on Monday that Kott’s most recent motion and the handwritten notes “do not compel a different result” from the earlier rulings.

“Much of Kott’s briefing attacks the previous ruling, but in a manner not squarely based on the new documents,” the judge wrote.

Sheryl McCloud, a lawyer for Kott, told Main Justice she was disappointed with Sedwick’s ruling this week and said she will continue to appeal her client’s conviction.

“We really wanted to get to the bottom of the matter and figure out who stopped the flow of information about the moral, ethical, and perjury problems with their principal witness,” McCloud said.

Prosecutors in Alaska have admitted evidence was inappropriately withheld, but have said their actions didn’t cause any harm.

Kott previously asked Sedwick in November to toss his corruption conviction, arguing the same prosecutors withheld evidence in both his case and the unrelated prosecution of former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Stevens conviction was later thrown out by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., at the request of Attorney General Eric Holder.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Bottini and James Goeke, as well as former Public Integrity Section lawyers Nicholas Marsh and Edward Sullivan prosecuted Kott. A court-appointed counsel and the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility are probing the prosecutors’ handling of evidence in the Stevens case.

The former state lawmaker was released from prison in June, after prosecutors said they did not hand over exculpatory evidence to the defense.

The story was first reported by The Anchorage Daily News.

This post has been updated from an earlier version.

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