Judge Rejects Several Motions to Dismiss Stevens Case

Posted September 10, 2008 at 2:16pm

A federal judge on Wednesday rejected several motions to dismiss all or part of the federal case against Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R).

Judge Emmet Sullivan did not rule on constitutional “Speech or Debate” issues in the case but is expected to do so in coming days.

Stevens is set to go on trial Sept. 22 on seven counts of filing false financial disclosures for allegedly failing to disclose the receipt of more than $250,000 in gifts over an eight-year period. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

In a pretrial hearing Wednesday, Stevens’ attorneys sought unsuccessfully to remove language in the Senator’s indictment that states he received gifts during the same period he and his staff were solicited by the oil services firm VECO and its executives, arguing the statement is prejudicial.

“There’s nothing wrong with the behavior alleged in paragraph 17,” Stevens attorney Rob Cary said. “If this case is going to be about constituent solicitations, constituent service, we’re going to be here for a very long time.”

Asserting the government has not charged Stevens with bribery or other quid pro quo-related offenses, Cary added: “They just want to suggest it and stink up the courtroom. It’s not right, your honor.”

Stevens’ attorneys also asserted that unless the language was struck, it would need to be addressed and could add another week to the trial’s length.

But federal prosecutor Nicolas Marsh defended the language, arguing that it is key to proving Stevens’ intent in filing false statements.

“He’s not doing one for the other. … At the same time, he knows he’s getting benefits,” Marsh said.

Stevens waived his appearance and was not in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday.

Sullivan rejected Stevens’ motion, along with another asserting that the case violates separation of powers.

Stevens’ attorneys also failed to win a motion to dismiss several counts of the indictment, which they argued had expired under the statute of limitations.

Sullivan also deferred judgement on a separate government motion to exclude the criminal records of several defendants, stating those questions could be addressed during the course of the trial.

Sullivan approved a request by Stevens’ attorneys to file additional motions as the court date nears, rather than imposing a cut-off.

“It doesn’t mean I’m opening the floodgates of motions,” Sullivan said.