Holder: Appeal expected on discipline in Stevens case

Attorney General Eric Holder gestures as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 15, 2013, before the House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Justice Department. Holder is expected to face aggressive questioning on topics ranging from the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press to the government's handling of intelligence before the Boston Marathon bombings. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

JUNEAU — The U.S. Justice Department is expected to appeal a judge’s ruling that overturned the suspensions of two federal prosecutors over their conduct in Sen. Ted Stevens’ corruption trial.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday he did not agree with the judge’s decision and expected the Justice Department would appeal it to the Merit Systems Protection Board.

Holder’s comments were in response to questions from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, during a subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C.

Murkowski told Holder that Alaskans “are still kind of left dangling out there wondering, ‘Is there any justice out there?’ And they think not.”

In April, an administrative judge reversed the suspensions of two federal prosecutors who allegedly failed to provide evidence to the defense in Stevens’ trial.

Judge Benjamin Gutman found the Justice Department violated its procedures by having a member of its management decide the case.

He did not address whether the prosecutors committed the misconduct they were accused of, or if the penalties imposed were reasonable.

Murkowski called the judge’s decision “extraordinarily troubling to many of us.”

Stevens’ conviction ultimately was overturned due to prosecutorial errors. He died in a plane crash in Alaska in August 2010.

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