There was a strange odor in U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s courtroom this morning and a court official told observers that exhaust fans would kick on to clear the “aroma.”
“It smells like roast beef,” said Williams & Connolly senior partner Brendan Sullivan Jr., lead counsel for Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, whose public corruption trial continued this morning. The government is expected to wrap up its case today.
There’s a hearing this afternoon in which Williams & Connolly lawyers are arguing for a mistrial or the dismissal of the indictment against Stevens. The lawyers say Justice Department prosecutors, led by Brenda Morris, principal deputy chief in the Public Integrity Section, have consistently violated Brady rules. Judge Sullivan ruled once on the argument last week—rejecting the relief the defense lawyers sought. Round No. 2 is set for argument this afternoon.
The Williams & Connolly team has fired off a motion adding to the list of complaints against the government. The lawyers say the Justice Department introduced a check into evidence that had not been provided to Williams & Connolly in discovery. An assistant U.S. attorney, Joseph Bottini, argued this morning in court that the government did not have to turn over the check—which the government’s chief witness, Bill Allen, used to buy a Land Rover for about $44,000—to the defense lawyers. “There was never any indication that this was going to be a disputed fact,” Bottini said.
Prosecutors have told jurors about how Stevens traded a Mustang convertible and $5,000 to Allen, a longtime friend, in exchange for the Land Rover. Justice Department lawyers say the deal was too good to be true. Yesterday in court, the defense lawyers grilled Allen on the amount he paid for the vehicle—apparently unaware that the government had in its possession Allen’s check. The defense may not have spent time exploring that payment if it had received the check in discovery, Judge Sullivan said today.