Judge lifts contempt against Stevens prosecutors

Posted: Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WASHINGTON - Attorneys who prosecuted Sen. Ted Stevens learned Tuesday that they will not be penalized for failing to comply with a judge's order, but some still face possible criminal charges over their mishandling of the case.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan lifted his contempt finding against three senior Justice Department attorneys, but declined one of lawyers' request to eliminate the citation from the record of the case.

Sullivan was angered during a hearing on Feb. 13, 2009, when Stevens' conviction on corruption charges was poised to unravel amid allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. Yet Justice Department lawyers said gave no reason for missing a Jan. 30 deadline to give documents to Stevens' attorneys, and Sullivan took the rare step of holding them in contempt.

The contempt citation was against Brenda Morris, the department's No. 2 anti-corruption official and an instructor within the department; William Welch, who supervises the Public Integrity Section and has overseen every major public corruption case in recent years; and Patty Merkamp Stemler, chief of the Justice Department's criminal division appellate section.

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