The U.S. Justice Department this afternoon asked that two former Alaska state legislators imprisoned after convictions in public corruption cases be released, saying their trials were tainted by the failure of prosecutors to disclose favorable information.
In filings with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department asked that the Pete Kott and Vic Kohring be set free while their cases are sent back to U.S. District Court, where they were convicted in 2007.
The Justice Department didn't immediately disclose what new information has come to light. But the issue is the same general problem that led to dismissal of charges against U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens in April after he was convicted on seven counts of failure to disclose gifts and services.
In a written statement issued this afternoon, Attorney General Eric Holder said he has asked the Justice Department's Criminal Division "to review the Department's public corruption investigation in Alaska to ensure that all other discovery obligations have been met."
"After a careful review of these cases, I have determined that it appears that the Department did not provide information that should have been disclosed to the defense," the statement says. "Department of Justice prosecutors work hard every day and perform a great service for the American people. But the Department's mission is to do justice, not just win cases, and when we make mistakes, it is our duty to admit and correct those mistakes. We are committed to doing that."
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