Justice Department Found to Have (Again) Withheld Evidence and Invalidating Convictions Through Prosecutorial Misconduct

kott-dskohring-dsThe Justice Department has again conceded to acts of prosecutorial misconduct that will result in the release of two politicians from jail in Alaska. In a case with obvious similarities to the botched case of former Sen. Ted. Stevens of Alaska, former Representatives Pete Kott and Vic Kohring will likely be released soon after the Justice Department admitted that it withheld evidence that should have been turned over to the defense. What is most striking is that the same prosecutors were involved in both the cases of Stevens and these state legislators.

In addition to the Stevens case, a different set of prosecutors from the Justice Department has been accused of similar violations in another case, here.

The Justice Department conceded before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Once again, Attorney General Eric Holder insisted that, despite a long effort to avoid such accountability by the Department, it was doing the right thing “duty to admit and correct those mistakes.” As with the Stevens case, the Justice Department had to be confronted by the defense before it found the moral clarity in the case.

Both the Stevens case and this case involving Kott and Kohring involved shady dealings with Bill Allen, the former owner of the oil-contracting company Veco Corp. They were both convicted on bribery and corruption charges in 2007 after allegedly taking bribes to stop legislation on raising state taxes on oil companies. This included considerable surveillance evidence.

The overlap of the prosecution teams included the four main prosecutors Joseph Bottini, James Goeke, Nicholas Marsh and Edward Sullivan.

This admission occurred shortly after a defense lawyer wrote to Attorney General Holder identifying a document that was not turned over to the defense. Congress needs to investigate these cases to determine if officials at Justice was aware of the withheld material and simply waited to be confronted on the matter — hoping that it would not be raised by the defense.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin released an email in which she said that she support the decision and said that she was “wildly curious what went on in DOJ back then, and what is going on in DOJ now that’s resulted in these stunning turn of events.” Now, her wild curiosity can be satisfied and two more corrupt politicians set free due to the incompetence and unethical conduct of the Justice Department prosecutors.

Kott previously said he “had to cheat, steal, beg, borrow and lie” to get benefits for the industry but added “Exxon’s happy. BP’s happy. I’ll sell my soul to the devil.” It turns out that he only had to guarantee that he was prosecuted by the Justice Department.

For the full story, click here.

12 thoughts on “Justice Department Found to Have (Again) Withheld Evidence and Invalidating Convictions Through Prosecutorial Misconduct”

  1. Dear Jill

    Re your comment re indefinite detention

    Richard Fine was held on indefinite detention and so was I. We were both accused of “civil contempt” whatever that is.

  2. Ya think it is bad in Alaska, see the Former Federal Prosecutor that is suing people who caused him to lose his job because they outed him for withholding evidence.

  3. Lolo: I just read your comment. I think you are on to something!!! Why wouldn’t Bush appointee / Regent University grads want to help their buddies on the R side?

  4. Go Regent University!!!!
    (Weren’t they rampant in the JD at the time? I hope Holder gets rid of all the incompetent attorneys who let this happen.)

  5. And now this. I believed preventative (aka indefinite) detention was reprehensible. I thought the Obama administration had hit rock bottom with that plan. I was wrong. Please call or e-mail the WH. They need to know that the people of this nation will not tolerate what they are proposing below. It is illegal. It is evil. Good people of any or no party, do not allow this in our country.

    “The Obama administration is considering a change in the law for the military commissions at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that would clear the way for detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial.

    The provision could permit military prosecutors to avoid airing the details of brutal interrogation techniques. It could also allow the five detainees who have been charged with the Sept. 11 attacks to achieve their stated goal of pleading guilty to gain what they have called martyrdom.

    The proposal, in a draft of legislation that would be submitted to Congress, has not been publicly disclosed. It was circulated to officials under restrictions requiring secrecy. People who have read or been briefed on it said it had been presented to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates by an administration task force on detention.

    The proposal would ease what has come to be recognized as the government’s difficult task of prosecuting men who have confessed to terrorism but whose cases present challenges. Much of the evidence against the men accused in the Sept. 11 case, as well as against other detainees, is believed to have come from confessions they gave during intense interrogations at secret C.I.A. prisons. In any proceeding, the reliability of those statements would be challenged, making trials difficult and drawing new political pressure over detainee treatment.

    Some experts on the commissions said such a proposal would raise new questions about the fairness of a system that has been criticized as permitting shortcuts to assure convictions.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/06/us/politics/06gitmo.html?_r=1

  6. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I wonder if it couldn’t also be the case that the prosecutors purposely withheld the evidence so that they could then admit to hiding it later and get the prosecutions overturned.

  7. Jill,

    “I think there is one party with two names and they do each other favors.”

    Even if it is not…it may as well be.

    A possible result of the strong attorney representation in the parties? The “Golden Rule” dictates that you should never hold someone else accountable for something that you too may be held accountable to someday. -In other words; keep quiet, or someday you’ll be in trouble for doing the same thing.

    This is not the government that the Framers envisioned.

  8. Dredd,

    I think there is one party with two names and they do each other favors.

    The contrast between how the ruling elite treats other members of the ruling elite and how they deny justice to our detainees and the poor and unconnected is just too stricking to ignore. This also pertains to economics where the richest members of society are given every break, allowed to prosper through cheating and illegal use of taxpayer funds, while the poor and middle class are left to drown. All of this is a recipe for social chaos, but I don’t think these people care, because, a. it won’t touch them, and b. in fact, the private contractors are gearing up to make a profit on all the misery, just as they did from Katrina.

  9. Not to mention Governor Seligman … who was politically prosecuted.

    I think this may be symptomatic of a perversion of the notion of bi-partisanship where one political party focuses on another’s party affiliation in the reverse … like affirmative action … because fairness and professionalism is not seen as being dramatic enough.

    Thus democrats overreact to a common problem and give relief to prominent republican politicians for political reasons.

    Law journal articles show that they typical Brady violation is a systemic and wide spread problem, and certainly not limited to prosecutions of republicans.

    Don’t get me wrong, Brady violations are egregious and wrong.

    I am complaining about the ad hoc method of fixing the Brady violation problem which the DOJ is doing politically.

    http://blogdredd.blogspot.com/2009/04/everybodys-got-holder-heart.html

  10. “The Justice Department conceded before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Once again, Attorney General Eric Holder insisted that, despite a long effort to avoid such accountability by the Department, it was doing the right thing “duty to admit and correct those mistakes.” As with the Stevens”
    ——————————————————————-

    What an interesting contratst between the treatment of these well connected gentlemen and Gitmo detainees. The DOJ feels such strong emotion for these poor gentlement from Alaska, they’re regular humanitarians. “…duty to admit and correct those mistakes”?

    What about the people we tortured? Don’t we have a much higher duty to admit and correct those mistakes?

Comments are closed.