Alaska legislators snared in bribery probe ordered freed

Anchorage Daily NewsJune 10, 2009 

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday sent the corruption cases of former Alaska Reps. Pete Kott and Vic Kohring back to federal District Court in Anchorage with orders that both men be released from prison pending further hearings.

The three-judge panel hearing the appeals of both men said it will be up to U.S. District Judge John Sedwick to determine the conditions of release. But the appellate judges noted that federal prosecutors had said Kott and Kohring should be released without having to post bail.

As of 1:10 p.m. in Anchorage, Sedwick had not filed release orders in the cases.

The remand to District Court follows a motion brought last week by a new team of federal prosecutors requesting the return of the cases to District Court in Anchorage. The prosecutors said the Justice Department had recently discovered favorable evidence that should have been turned over to Kott and Kohring before their trials in 2007. The new prosecutors have not said yet what the evidence is, nor have they suggested a remedy.

Both legislators were convicted on bribery and other charges.

In cases when undisclosed favorable evidence could have had a significant affect on a trial, the usual remedy is a new trial, though in the recent case of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, all his charges were dismissed.

In sending the cases back to Sedwick's courtroom, the 9th Circuit panel resoundingly rejected one point of Kohring's appeal -- that Sedwick should have removed himself from the case because of alleged bad blood between Sedwick's wife, a former state official, and Kohring.

Kohring raised that issue months after he was convicted and demanded a new trial with a different judge. Kohring said he didn't get a fair trial because of a public feud that began in the late 1990s with the judge's wife, Deborah Sedwick, a former state commissioner whose agency budget he tried to cut and whose department and job he said he eliminated.

Read the full story at adn.com

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