Sunday, February 26, 2012

Vic Kohring Goes on in His Own Words


Vic Kohring continues his lengthy account of his investigation, arrest, trial, conviction, successful appeal, and plea of guilty to a felony to end his case before his re-trial could start.   About the kindest thing I can say is that this series definitely gives a good flavor of his personality.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Permanent Fund Dividend Book and Public Events

Besides the federal probe into Alaska public corruption, I also have written and spoken extensively about the 49th State's unique fiscal system and the threats to it.

Palgrave Macmillan is publishing next month an academic book entitled Alaska's Permanent Fund Dividend:   Examining its Suitability as a Model, which includes three chapters co-authored by me.   My co-author in this first volume is Juneau-based economic consultant Gregg Erickson, editor-at-large of the Alaska Budget Report.

I am doing a series of speeches and media availabilities on my contributions to the book and a fourth chapter I wrote for a second volume to be published in June by Palgrave Macmillan.

Two of those events particularly set up for the general audience would be:

1.  A speech entitled "Permanent Fund Dividends--Pros, Cons, Alternatives" this Thursday, February 23, at the Bartlett Democratic Club in Anchorage at 12 noon.    The appearance is at the Denny's Restaurant at 3850 Debarr Road, which is just east of Bragaw Street.

2.  A radio appearance on the program "Hometown, Alaska" on Wednesday, March 7, on Anchorage's public radio station KSKA, 91.1 FM, at 2 p.m.   The hour-long call-in program is broadcast live at 2 p.m. and may be re-broadcast at 7 p.m.   The interviewer will be Charles Wohlforth, an Anchorage-based author who has himself written about Permanent Fund Dividends.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Judge Orders Release of Full Report on Prosecutorial Misconduct in Ted Stevens Case


U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered today the release on March 15 of the special counsel report into misconduct by federal prosecutors in the trial of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska).   

The court's order came in a 55-page document by turns  blistering and scholarly.   Judge Sullivan is fed up.    He is  furious with the failures by the government lawyers to follow their obligations to share evidence with the defense before and during the Ted Stevens trial in 2008.    He is bothered that the Justice Department has not released the results of its own Office of Professional Responsibility ("OPR") probe into the prosecutors' handling of the case and the failures in "discovery" (the legal term for sharing evidence in litigation).    He is dismissive of the objections to the release of the special counsel's report filed by four of the prosecutors involved in the trial.    He is tired of all the delays that have led to continuing litigation over the release of the results of an investigation into the prosecutors' conduct he ordered almost three years ago.   (He might even feel some pangs of regret, as he labels the defense's arguments during the trial calling for dismissal of the case or for a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct "persuasive" even though he denied those requests.)

Judge Sullivan ruled that the public had a First Amendment right to the report prepared under the leadership of veteran Washington, D.C. attorney Henry Schuelke.   The judge stated:

Mr. Schuelke’s Report chronicles significant 
prosecutorial misconduct in a highly publicized investigation 
and prosecution brought by the Public Integrity Section against 
an incumbent United States Senator.  The government’s ill-gotten verdict in the case not only cost that public official his bid for re-election, the results of that election tipped the balance of power in the United States Senate.    

Judge Sullivan asserted that the release of the special counsel's report was needed both to uphold the fair administration of justice and to correct incorrect beliefs held by the public about the case.   The court's order quotes an earlier judicial decision that stated “Not only is the
information widely known, it is widely known incorrectly.”   Except for the identities of those making specific filings on the report's release, the only redacted material in today's 55-page order was a footnote that apparently describes "the wrong or misleading information" given to the public about the case. 

We should know soon what is in that footnote to the court's order as well as what's in the 500-page special counsel's report.    Judge Sullivan ordered today that the lawyers for the six government attorneys file by March 8 any written comments or objections to the special counsel's report.   Those written comments or objections shall be released as addenda to the special counsel's report on March 15 along with an unredacted version of today's order.   Barring a successful appeal--which I do not expect--that schedule should hold.   

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New York Times Editorial Calls for Release of Report on Misconduct of Prosecutors in Ted Stevens Trial


The nation's largest local metropolitan daily newspaper has urged the court to release the report prepared by special counsel who investigated misconduct by prosecutors in the botched prosecution of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska).    This call comes more than two months after the court announced the completion of the report and almost a month after the Department of Justice stated that it did not object to the release.    The New York Times editorial stated that:

The Stevens debacle stained the department’s reputation and will continue to do so unless there is full disclosure of the investigation. The department issued new guidance for all federal prosecutors on how to handle “criminal discovery” in the wake of the Stevens case. But neither Congress nor the public will be able to tell if those standards are sufficient without a full understanding of what happened in the Stevens prosecution. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Catching Up


Three quick hits in the snowfall that is whitening and warming up Anchorage:

1.  The Department of Justice has spent close to $1.8 million paying the legal fees of the lawyers under investigation for their roles in the bungled prosecution of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska).   And the attorneys getting those legal fees are still on the clock.

2.  The Alaska Dispatch has re-published what promises to be the first installment of the in-his-own-words defense of former State Rep. Vic Kohring (R.-Wasilla).    He includes the statement that "[M]y defense cost upwards of $1.25 million."   

3.   And--very belatedly--here is what I told KTVA-TV in Anchorage last month when the Justice Department advised Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R.-Alaska) that it would review its decision not to prosecute convicted briber and star prosecution witness Bill Allen for alleged offenses related to sex with underage girls.