The Work

August 11, 2010 12:22 PM

After Stevens's Death, Williams & Connolly Blasts Prosecutors

Posted by Brian Baxter

Stevens As most of the country has learned by now, longtime Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens died in a plane crash late Monday. On Tuesday, as news of Stevens's death reached the Lower 48, lawyers from the firm that represented him in a 2008 federal corruption trial lashed out again at the Justice Department over its conduct in the case.

Veteran Williams & Connolly litigator Brendan Sullivan, Jr., and partner Robert Cary released a statement on Tuesday praising Stevens as an "American hero" who "always did what he thought was in the best interests of the public."

"We were honored to represent him, and we were honored to call him our friend," the two partners said in their statement.

As noted by The National Law Journal, a sibling publication, Stevens became a symbol of prosecutorial misconduct last year after his October 2008 conviction on ethics charges was dismissed. The NLJ covered in detail how a series of errors by the public integrity section at the Justice Department doomed its prosecution of Stevens over allegations that the former senator accepted gifts from an oil services contractor and then lied about them on public financial disclosure forms.

In their statement, Sullivan and Cary said that the guilty verdict against Stevens "was based on fabricated evidence." The two noted that Washington, D.C., federal district court judge Emmet Sullivan, who presided over the Stevens trial, later stated that "in nearly 25 years on the bench, I've never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I've seen in this case."

U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, Jr., made the decision to drop the charges against Stevens in April 2009. The Justice Department then picked up the legal tab for defending the so-called Stevens Six, the public integrity prosecutors caught up in a court-ordered criminal contempt probe into why possible exculpatory materials were not turned over to Stevens's defense counsel at W&C.

"[Sen.] Stevens was innocent, and insisted on fighting the charges," Sullivan and Cary said in their statement. "Even after the case against him was dismissed, he remained profoundly affected by the government's misconduct and its implications for others."

Stevens's widow, Catherine Ann Stevens, is a partner at Mayer Brown. Also perishing in the Alaskan air crash was Stevens's former chief of staff William Phillips, a name partner at Washington, D.C.'s Utrecht & Phillips. Injured in the accident was D.C. lobbyist and ex-Stevens aide James Morhard of Morhard & Associates.


Photo: Diego Radzinschi, The National Law Journal

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