A storm of motions by Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ defense lawyers at Williams & Connolly will not delay his Sept. 24 trial, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said today.
In recent weeks, the Williams & Connolly team, led by Brendan Sullivan Jr., has raised questions about everything from the legality of the government’s surveillance to the drug and alcohol history of prospective witnesses to the way in which FBI agents took pictures of the senator’s home. As Politico reports, many assumed the motions would throw the case off course.
Stevens, who is charged with seven counts of making false statements on his Senate disclosure forms, asked for a speedy trial at his July arraignment. He said he wanted the matter dispensed with before he stands for reelection on Nov. 4.
Judge Sullivan, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was happy to oblige. “The defendant asked for a speedy trial, and a speedy trial is what he will get,” Sullivan said at an all-day motions hearing.
Defense lawyers have complained that the government is slowing their progress. Lawyers seek discovery information related to an Alaska state investigation of its star witness, VECO founder Bill Allen, and they also want the Sullivan to order Allen and his doctors to turn over all of his medical records regarding a 2001 motorcycle accident. Sullivan said the medical records issue was not ripe for resolution.
For much of the morning Stevens’ lawyers butted heads with prosecutors over separation of powers and Speech or Debate Clause issues. Sullivan rejected, flat out, defense arguments that the executive branch is banned from prosecuting Stevens because he violated Senate rules.
Sullivan said he would not immediately rule on whether some of the government’s evidence, such as letters he wrote on behalf of VECO officials, involve legislative acts and are barred by Speech or Debate.
Later this afternoon the parties recessed for lunch until 2 p.m. Sullivan will decide whether any of the false statement counts fall outside the five-year statute of limitations.
The longest-serving Republican senator waived his appearance at the hearing. Celebrated trial lawyer Brendan Sullivan, who unsuccessfully argued for a change of venue from Washington to Alaska last month, has not spoken today, except to introduce himself.
At the recess, Sullivan and W&C partners Alex Romain and Robert Cary cut a path past reporters to a car waiting outside. But they’ll be back.