Stevens Looks to Restore Reputation

Posted April 7, 2009 at 2:36pm

Lawyers for former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) want to make one thing perfectly clear: Because the court has agreed to throw out the corruption case against him, Stevens has not been convicted and should not be referred to that way.

And the judge in the case seems inclined to help them make that point.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan agreed Tuesday to overturn the seven guilty verdicts that a jury handed down against Stevens in October. Stevens was charged with failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts on his annual financial disclosure forms.

The Justice Department has admitted that members of the prosecution team withheld evidence that could have been helpful to the defense and last week asked Sullivan to vacate the verdict and overturn the indictment against Stevens.

But defense attorney Brendan Sullivan wants more.

“If I had one wish, it would be that I never see it reported that Ted Stevens was convicted,— Brendan Sullivan said in court Tuesday. “There is no conviction in this case.—

He pointed out that a conviction is not final until it is signed by a judge after all appeals have been exhausted. He asked Judge Sullivan to dismiss the case against Stevens in a way that makes it clear “that he hasn’t been convicted of any crime.—

Judge Sullivan took that notion to heart and, after a brief recess, announced that he would allow the defense counsel to draft the order vacating the case against Stevens — though he said he could not promise that he would issue any order the defense team proposes. The judge asked the defense to confer with the government on appropriate language — to the extent possible — and the government raised no objection to the judge’s decision.

It was unclear when the proposed dismissal language would be filed.