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Posted at 11:03 AM ET, 03/27/2012

Inquiry into Ted Stevens case cost nearly $1 million

The judicial investigation into alleged misconduct by prosecutors handling the trial of the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) cost taxpayers nearly $1 million, federal court officials said.

A federal judge had ordered a probe by a “special prosecutor” after he threw out Stevens’ guilty verdict in the wake of a Justice Department disclosure that evidence was withheld from defense attorneys.

Court officials on Tuesday said the law firm of Henry F. Schuelke III, who was appointed special prosecutor, was paid $981,842.42 for its work, detailed in a recent report which concluded that prosecutors engaged in serious misconduct.

The report, published two weeks ago, generated scathing editorials in The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Now a respected defense lawyer and blogger is weighing in — on the side of the prosecutors.

Michael Volkov, a former federal prosecutor, read every word of the lengthy report and hundreds of pages of submissions and found that investigators “have unfairly tarnished a number of professional prosecutors,” he wrote a blog post Monday.

The report “appears to be guided by a predetermined political result – laying out hundreds of pages of ‘facts’ which include numerous instances of assumptions, ignoring of contrary evidence and failing to even acknowledge surrounding circumstances, and then protecting this flawed process by concluding that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute the individual prosecutors for criminal contempt of court,” Volkov wrote.

He continues: “In many respects, the. . .report is guilty of the same conduct it complains about in the Stevens case.”

Stevens, who died in a 2010 plane crash, was found guilty in 2008 but U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan later threw out that verdict when the Justice Department disclosed that prosecutors had not turned over key notes to defense attorneys. The judge then ordered an investigation of prosecutors and federal agents by Schuelke and William Shields, both prominent local defense lawyers. It took them nearly two years to complete their blistering 514-page report.

In an earlier opinion, the judge wrote that he had accepted Schuelke’s conclusions. The judicial investigator found that while prosecutors engaged in the “systematic concealment of evidence” they should not be prosecuted because Sullivan never issued a clear order telling them to disclose such materials to defense lawyers.

Follow me on Twitter: @delwilber

By  |  11:03 AM ET, 03/27/2012

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