During a lunch break today, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens took a seat in the witness box to test the microphone. “Senator, can you hear us?” asked Williams & Connolly partner Robert Cary, part of the team defending Stevens in a public corruption case. Stevens indicated he could hear well. His hearing will be tested Thursday.
Stevens is expected to return to that same seat—this time under oath. The 84-year-old Republican senator, who is charged with lying on Senate financial disclosure forms, will testify in his defense in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Williams & Connolly senior partner Brendan Sullivan Jr. said today he expects direct examination of Stevens to take at least a couple of hours. Stevens’s wife, Catherine Ann Stevens, a partner at Mayer Brown in D.C., is expected to testify for the defense before her husband, who is charged with filing false Senate financial forms to conceal more than $250,000 in gifts and home repairs from public review. Closing arguments are set for Monday.
Williams & Connolly lawyers today continued exploring Stevens’s state-of-mind—that he had no intent to conceal items of value on financial disclosure reports. A longtime Stevens friend, Bob Persons, testified that Stevens was rarely at his home in Alaska during major renovation work there. Another friend, Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Donna de Varona, described Stevens as loyal and responsive.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan today refused to allow Sutherland Asbill & Brennan partner William “Billy” Martin to testify as an expert on behalf of Stevens. The Williams & Connolly defense team wanted Martin to speak about prosecutorial discretion and to discuss what it means when a person talks about the obstruction charges brought against Martha Stewart, who was imprisoned for obstruction for lying to investigators about a stock transaction. Stevens brought up the Stewart case in a phone call with a friend.
Justice Department lawyers argued that Martin does not bring anything extra to the Stevens case—that Stevens himself articulated in the call what he meant when he mentioned the obstruction charges in the Stewart case. “The words ‘Martha Stewart’ mean different things to different people,” Judge Sullivan said. “There is no universal meaning of ‘Martha Stewart.’”
Judge Sullivan refused to let Martin testify. But the judge said he has no doubt the well-known lawyer—and public commentator—would likely “dazzle” the jury with his testimony on legal matters. “I have the highest regard for him,” Judge Sullivan said. “Tell Mr. Martin to have a nice day. Send him my apologies.”