As the Alaska political corruption case unfolded in 2006 and 2007, Alaskans had reason to feel faith restored, that there was a justice system at work, that the cynical, sneering members of the "Corrupt Bastards Club" in Juneau were due for their days of reckoning. The FBI and the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice had lanced a boil that had grown too long in Alaska -- and one that Alaska apparently couldn't lance on its own.
Since then, we've seen cases unravel, convictions challenged and overturned.
The corruption was real, the cleansing necessary. But we've had plenty of reasons to question the integrity and competence of the prosecution.
The conviction of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens was overturned. The reason? The prosecution withheld evidence, casting doubt on both its professionalism and the strength of its case. The Justice Department swiftly dropped the case, and Stevens was cleared.
On Friday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the corruption conviction of former state Rep. Vic Kohring, despite powerful secret videotapes that showed him taking money from Veco officials, because the prosecution also withheld evidence from the defense in that case.
And there's still the unexplained decision by the Justice Department not to pursue a case against former Veco president Bill Allen for transporting a minor across state lines for criminal sexual activity. Allen, the central figure and admitted felon in the corruption case, was a key witness in the federal cases against Stevens, Kohring and others, but both his memory and motives in testifying were suspect. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told Sen. Lisa Murkowski there was no deal with Allen. Murkowski isn't satisfied with the answer, or with the failure to pursue the sexual abuse case. Neither are many other Alaskans.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.adn.com.