After months of backtracking in its prosecutions of the Alaska corruption cases, the Justice Department said Friday that former House Speaker Pete Kott received a proper trial in 2007 and his conviction on bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges should stand.
The government's response was a flat-out rejection of a motion filed last month by Kott's attorney seeking dismissal of charges because prosecutors failed to turn over favorable evidence before his trial.
"Kott has not established a constitutional discovery violation warranting a new trial, much less dismissal," the Justice Department said in its reply to Kott. "This court should therefore deny his motion."
The Justice Department has been on the defensive since it won guilty verdicts in October in its seven-count corruption case against former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.
That had been the government's 11th consecutive success at that point in its Alaska investigation, with no failures. But even as prosecutors were cheering their success in Washington, their case was unraveling.
Weeks later, a key Stevens prosecution witness said his testimony wasn't truthful and that prosecutors had mischaracterized some evidence. Then, an FBI agent in Anchorage complained the investigation had been conducted improperly and that Stevens was unfairly tried. Finally, under unrelenting pressure from Stevens' defense team and an increasingly skeptical judge, the Justice Department acknowledged it failed to provide favorable evidence to Stevens and asked for all charges to be dismissed.
The Stevens judge impaneled a special prosecutor to investigate the government lawyers for criminal contempt and the Justice Department began an internal investigation. Both investigations are ongoing.
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