In its Notable and Quotable space on the editorial page this morning, the Wall Street Journal excerpts Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski’s preface to the Georgetown Law Journal’s “Annual Review of Criminal Procedure” (2015). The Journal notes that Judge Kozinski “writes in the preface about the 2008 federal case against Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, who died in 2010.” Judge Kozinski looks back in anger:
Senator Stevens was charged with corruption for accepting the services of a building contractor and paying him far below market price—essentially a bribe. The government’s case hinged on the testimony of the contractor, but the government failed to disclose the initial statement the contractor made to the FBI that he was probably overpaid for the services. The government also failed to disclose that the contractor was under investigation for unrelated crimes and thus had good reason to curry favor with the authorities.
Stevens was convicted just a week before he stood for re-election and in the wake of the conviction, he was narrowly defeated, changing the balance of power in the Senate. The government’s perfidy came to light when a brave FBI agent by the name of Chad Joy blew the whistle on the government’s knowing concealment of exculpatory evidence. Did the government react in horror at having been caught with its hands in the cookie jar? Did Justice Department lawyers rend their garments and place ashes on their head to mourn this violation of their most fundamental duty of candor and fairness? No way, no how. Instead, the government argued strenuously that its ill-gotten conviction should stand because boys will be boys and the evidence wasn’t material to the case anyway. . . . Instead of contrition, what we have seen is Justice Department officials of the highest rank suffering torn glenoid labrums from furiously patting themselves on the back for having “done the right thing.”