Category Archives: Trials

Kiss Alaska goodbye. Thank Ted Stevens.

Newly convicted Sen. Ted Stevens is digging in his heels, and this blogger sees no sign of any intent to resign, before or after the election. The man honestly thinks he won’t spend day one in jail; I don’t think he’s capable of envisioning a Senate without him.

National Republicans are abandoning him, the state party is clinging to him, his fellow senators (of both parties) are talking openly about expelling him, and local political experts are still saying he might eke out one final re-election victory.

News developments, analysis, and more wonkery below the break.

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Welcome to the bighouse, Ted. Now what?

The Congressional Indicted Caucus officially has one fewer member. Senator Ted Stevens has been convicted on all counts. To quote a certain played-out, over-the-hill cartoonist: “Guilty, guilty, guilty!” (More here, here, here, and here.) For his part, Stevens has announced he will appeal, maintaining his innocence and lacerating the prosecutors for what I admit was some pretty messed-up lawyering.

I can’t say I’ll be sorry to see Sen. Stevens go, which will come as no surprise to WitSnapper readers (who may have read my thoughts on the man here, here, here, here, and elsewhere). His Senate seat will likely go to his Democratic opponent, Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, now effectively running unopposed. Republicans now are scrambling to assess their very limited options.

Bunches of scenario-weaving below the break.

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Stevens trial: It’s all over but the sequestering

Testimony ended Monday as the defense rested its case in Sen. Ted Stevens’s corruption trial, apparently back on track after a major snafu by prosecutors led a judge to threaten a mistrial three weeks ago.

Closing arguments were delivered after Sen. Stevens himself was cross-examined, by what must have been a very exasperated prosecutor.  The Los Angeles Times describes a very cagey senator who, though expensive items were left at his house by their owners and never retrieved, somehow didn’t count as “gifts:”

Public integrity attorney Brenda Morris repeatedly challenged Stevens on the witness stand Monday, saying his explanation that the items in question were not gifts, even though they remained at his homes, was not plausible.   

Morris asked Stevens about a $2,700 Brookstone massage chair delivered to his home in Washington in 2001. Stevens has taken the position that the chair was a loan from a friend. But he acknowledged on cross-examination that it remains in his home to this day.

“How is that not a gift?” Morris asked.

“We have lots of things in our house that don’t belong to us, ma’am,” Stevens replied.

I’ll bet you do, Senator.  It’s going to be tough to convince a jury, I think, that you were never billed for any of them.

Stevens is accused of accepting over $200,000 in gifts, including home renovations, furniture, and sculpture, and failing to report it to Congress’s ethics office as required by federal law.

Frog-marching ACORNers in Michigan now

A 23-year-old convicted felon and field operative for ACORN in Michigan is being charged with six counts of forging a public document, says the Detroit News.  He faces a maximum of 14 years on each charge.

The charges against Antonio Johnson, now held on a parole violation are summed up as follows by Republican state attorney general Mike Cox:

Johnson was working for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now between May and June of this year when he filled out, signed and submitted six voter registration applications, using two Jackson residents’ names, without their knowledge, Cox said.

“This is an obvious case of forgery and that is why I am taking action today,” said Cox. “This office will not stand by while criminals interfere with the voting rights of Michigan citizens.”

My take?  This may be a sign that AG Cox may be contemplating a criminal RICO investigation against the larger ACORN group.  Antonio Johnson is way-small potatoes, certainly not worth this kind of publicity.  That’s why I don’t think this ends with him.

As with most corrupt organizations, it’s nearly impossible to go after the organization heads directly; you have to establish leverage over small fish and trade leniency for further information leading up the food chain.  Since the state is confronting Johnson with a parole violation plus as much as 84 years on top of it for the forgery counts, they’ve got lots to bargain with.  If he turns state’s evidence, and the state can come up with others like him (hardly a stretch of the imagination), the ACORN brass could be next.

Incidentally, I don’t know what the law is in Michigan regarding hiring convicted felons in the first place for gathering registration signatures, but in some other states such as Nevada it’s definitely frowned upon.  Michigan may be closing in; there’s only so many times the higher-ups at ACORN can blame illegal tactics on “a few bad apples” out in the field.

Life, minus 13 years for slick lawyering

Twelve people in California should have said this to O.J. Simpson thirteen years ago, but twelve Nevadans got around to it eventually today.  What a Nevada jury finally said boiled down to one word: “guilty.”  An added bonus: they also got around to saying it eleven additional times immediately afterward.  (Via Captain Ed.)

Fox livecast the verdict:

O.J. was immediately hustled back off to jail, pending sentencing on December 5.  He faces a sentence as stiff as life in prison (long odds on it, but hope springs eternal).  O.J.’s media agnomen of the last thirteen years, “celebrity in exile,” is about to take on a whole new meaning.

(No word on reaction to the guilty verdict from the families of Ron Goldman or Nicole Brown.  Goldman’s father Fred said before the verdict that he’d been following the trial “only generally,” though he did add, “At the absolute least, I’d like to see him in jail.”)