Judge orders misconduct report in Sen. Stevens case released

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 8, 2012 11:36am EST

A 2008 file photo shows then Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska sitting in a van outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Washington. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

A 2008 file photo shows then Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska sitting in a van outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Washington.

Credit: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Wednesday ordered that a 500-page special report detailing federal prosecutors' misconduct in the 2008 corruption trial of the late Senator Ted Stevens be released next month, despite objections by some of the subjects of the report.

The report found "significant, widespread and at times intentional misconduct" by Justice Department prosecutors, according to a brief summary released in November by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.

But the report did not recommend any criminal prosecution.

Sullivan said releasing the report, scheduled for March 15, would help the public understand what went wrong with the prosecution and why no criminal contempt proceedings were being pursued against the prosecutors.

Weeks before the 2008 congressional elections, Alaska Senator Stevens was convicted by a jury of lying on his Senate disclosure form to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil executive and other friends. He lost his re-election bid and died in a plane crash in 2010 in his home state.

Sullivan in 2009 overturned the conviction of Stevens, who was the longest-serving Republican senator in history, because prosecutors failed to turn over to the defense information helpful to Stevens.

The judge appointed a veteran lawyer, Henry Schuelke, to investigate and possibly prosecute the six Justice Department attorneys who handled the Stevens case. One of those lawyers, Nicholas Marsh, committed suicide in September 2010.

Some of the attorneys who were the target of the investigation urged Sullivan to keep the report under seal in part because it was much like a secret grand jury proceeding, an argument the judge rejected.

"Withholding the report from the public and leaving the public with only the information from the trial and immediate post-trial proceedings would be the equivalent of giving a reader only every other chapter of a complicated book, distorting the story and making it impossible for the reader to put in context the information provided," Sullivan said in a 55-page opinion.

The judge offered the subjects of the report an opportunity to submit comments or objections which he said would be included when the report is released.

(Reporting By Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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