Justice Dept. lawyer kills self

By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Justice Department lawyer under investigation for possible misconduct in the prosecution of former senator Ted Stevens of Alaska committed suicide over the weekend, the law firm representing him confirmed Monday.

Nicholas A. Marsh, 37, was one of several Justice lawyers under investigation by a special prosecutor for possible legal improprieties that led a judge to vacate Stevens's 2008 conviction in a corruption case. A spokeswoman for Marsh's attorney, Robert Luskin, confirmed Monday that Marsh had killed himself, but offered no further details.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to Nick's family and friends on this sad day," Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement, without commenting on how Marsh died. "The Department of Justice is a community, and today our community is mourning the loss of this dedicated young attorney."

The investigation concerns irregularities in the prosecution's approach to sharing evidence and witness statements with defense lawyers. The Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to dismiss the case against Stevens after learning that prosecutors had failed to turn over notes that contradicted testimony from their key witness.

Marsh was among several lawyers on the Justice team that prosecuted Stevens, a Republican. Stevens was defeated in his reelection bid shortly after his conviction and died Aug. 9 in a plane crash in Alaska.

Joshua Berman, a former prosecutor and close friend of Marsh's, called the prosecutor's death "an unbelievable tragedy."

"I have no doubt his exoneration was imminent, his name was going to be cleared and this cloud would finally be lifted over him," Berman said of Marsh.

In naming a special prosecutor, Sullivan identified six people to be scrutinized - members of the prosecution team and the chief of the public integrity unit. "In 25 years on the bench, I have never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I have seen in this case," Sullivan said at the time.

Marsh was a junior member of the team.

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