Hold(y)er horses, Free Ted!

AG moves to overturn conviction of Republican senator in virtually unprecedented action

This criminal defense lawyer of 14 years was shocked to see a North Carolina prosecutor disgraced and disbarred in the Duke Lacrosse team non-rape case. It is not rare for District Attorneys to abuse their discretion by indicting and prosecuting defendants they suspect are innocent. It is extremely rare for such immunity protected govenment attorneys to be punished for their illegal acts.

I thought Hell would freeze over before I saw the government’s fangs sink into one of their own, like Mike Nifong.

Democrat Attorney General Erick Holder’s motion to dismiss charges, even after a jury trial and felony conviction, against a former Republican senator makes me think glaciers may be forming in Hades:

Faced with embarrassing revelations about withheld evidence, the Justice Department on Wednesday moved to reverse the conviction of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who lost his bid for re-election just days after a jury found that he had lied about gifts and home renovations.

Justice Department lawyers asked a judge to dismiss the indictment against Stevens and toss out his conviction — effectively killing their own courtroom victory with a shocking admission of misbehavior by prosecutors.

The last straw, apparently, was the failure of prosecutors to turn over notes of a crucial interview in which a witness contradicted a statement he made later under oath at trial.

Holder deserves great praise

“I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

He said the department must ensure that all cases are “handled fairly and consistent with its commitment to justice.”

Not only does the Attorney General seek to overturn a Justice Depratment conviction in a high profile case, but also declares that there will be no second prosecution. This is very impressive and quite a rare move for a government lawyer.

I have major differences with Holder on policy, legal opinons and actions, and political views on race matters, but he deserves high praise for exonerating Senator Stevens, who has so well served the people of Alaska for most of his life, even isolated communities in Nowheres that need bridges!

The main reason given for the AG’s motion to dismiss was the Justice Department’s violation of the precedent setting 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case of Brady v. Maryland which required that govenment prosecutors must disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense.

The prosecutors who handled the trial have been removed from the case and their conduct is under investigation.

Holder is a mixed bag and we can only hope that this move, along with some his recent advice to President Obama to continue following many of president Bush’s policies with regard to executive war powers, are signs of better decisions to come.

I do vividly recall that in 2002, Holder agreed with President Bush that illegal enemy combatents were not covered by the Geneva Conventions.

Mike DeVine’s Charlotte Observer, Examiner.com and Minority Report columns

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

Originally published by Mike DeVine, Legal Editor for The Minority Report