Former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ death in a plane crash on Monday has galvanized his ex-counsel to send out a news release condemning federal prosecutors for the botched corruption case against him.
Brendan Sullivan and Robert Cary of Williams & Connolly LLP, which represented the senator during his 2008 corruption case, called Stevens “an American hero” and emphasized the profound effect of the government’s case had on him.
“Senator Stevens did not deserve the treatment he received late in his career from some members of the Department of Justice,” Sullivan and Cary wrote. “The verdict against him was based on fabricated evidence. The Attorney General asked that Judge [Emmet] Sullivan dismiss the charges when he learned of some of the government’s misconduct.”
The Alaska Republican was convicted of corruption in December 2008, but Attorney General Eric Holder threw out the conviction after an internal review exposed prosecutorial misconduct, including failure to turn over evidence to Steven’s lawyers that might have helped in his defense.
Another investigation into those allegations by court-appointed prosecutor Henry Schuelke III is ongoing.
Fallout from the Stevens case devastated the reputation of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which prosecutes public-official corruption and handled the Stevens case. In its wake, the department replaced its senior staff and instituted several reforms, including the appointment of senior lawyers to each U.S. Attorney’s office to oversee criminal discovery.
But despite his legal victory, the case against Stevens ended his long-running Senate career.
“Stevens was innocent, and insisted on fighting the charges,” the partners said in their statement. “He remained profoundly affected by the government’s misconduct and its implications for others. His fervent hope was that meaningful change would be brought to the criminal justice system so that others would not be mistreated as he was by the very officials whose duty it is to represent the United States justly and fairly.”