THE RETIREMENT OF LAESER, GILBERT AND WAKSMAN CONTINUED:
There are wonderful comments in yesterday's post about the retirement of Messrs. Lseser, Waksman, and Gilbert. We're glad to see some newer ASAs are reading the blog. And we appreciate that many of our readers echo our sentiment that the SAO is just not losing top notch trial attorneys, but also the best teachers for the young lawyers that pass through the office.
In the front page of the local section of the Herald today is the horrible and tragic case of the man who allegedly drove impaired and struck a car killing three children and their mother. David Gilbert is representing the state. As a citizen of Miami, we feel secure that this case is in the right hands. Mr. Gilbert is experienced, and this is his forte. If justice is to be done in this case, Mr. Gilbert gives the SAO the best chance to see that it is done.
Can you imagine for a moment the backlash, and outcry that would occur is this case was mishandled by a less experienced prosecutor and the prosecution was compromised? We will admit that one of the most significant factors in our success in court is the experience or inexperience of the prosecutor we face.
Former Alaska senator Ted Stevens was known as one of the most powerful and one of the most disagreeable senators in Washington. For decades he secured billions of extra dollars in appropriations for Alaska while bullying staff members and others. When he was indicted and later convicted and then defeated in his bid for re-election, we thought that he had finally paid his price for his hubris.
But then we read an article in the WSJ yesterday (the title of the post links to the article) and we remembered why people are presumed innocent and why even the most despised among us need vigorous representation when accused of a crime.
The prosecutorial team that secured the conviction has been removed by the Justice Department. The trial judge held the trial prosecutors in contempt in January 2009 for ignoring his order to turn over discovery related to a complaint filed by an FBI agent assigned to the case.
The FBI complaint was made by one of the two lead agents assigned to the case. The complaint alleged that the other lead agent- FBI agent Mary Beth Kepner had an "unspecified inappropriate relationship" with the prosecution's star witness- Bill Allen. Allen was the Alaska contractor who was originally investigated and "flipped" against Stevens.
From the article:
During the trial, Judge Sullivan had also admonished the prosecution for failing to share documents with the defense and redacting exculpatory passages from witness transcripts.
Like many of our fellow defense attorneys in the Southern District, we thought "the government is not turning over discovery as required and is hiding exculpatory material. So what else is new? Dog bites man rarely makes a headline (although when a chimp does it, watch out!).
Love him or hate him, there are serious concerns about how the Justice Department treated Senator Stevens and whether he received a fair trial.
Enjoy the weekend.