Justice Suspensions Overturned; Judge Castigates Botched Prosecution of Stevens Case
Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The suspensions of two Justice Department prosecutors for failing to turn over evidence in the government's botched corruptions case against Sen. Ted Stevens have been overturned by an administrative judge.
Administrative Judge Benjamin Gutman said the Justice Department erred in having a member of its management rather than a rank-and-file attorney decide the case. He said the department violated its own procedures in suspending the prosecutors - James Goeke and Joseph Bottini - for failing to turn over evidence considered necessary to Mr. Stevens' defense.
The ruling, issued Friday night, did not address whether Mr. Goeke and Mr. Bottini were guilty of the allegations or whether penalties assessed against them were reasonable. The Justice Department is reviewing the matter and will decide whether to appeal the ruling.
A blistering 514-page report by Special Counsel Henry F. Schuelke III in March 2012 said the investigation of Mr. Stevens, Alaska Republican, was permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence, in some instances intentionally, that would have independently corroborated his defense and testimony.
The report said Justice Department prosecutors never conducted a comprehensive review of evidence favorable to Mr. Stevens and failed to disclose to defense attorneys notes of witness interviews containing significant information. It also said Mr. Goeke and Mr. Bottini intentionally withheld and concealed significant information from the Stevens defense team that would have seriously damaged the testimony and credibility of the government's key witness. …