Updated April 2
A Dorsey & Whitney lawyer who represented the government's chief witness in the prosecution of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has been cleared of any wrongdoing by a grievance committee that was asked by a federal judge to investigate possible witness coaching.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia referred the lawyer, Robert Bundy, to the committee in October 2008, during the Stevens trial, after the judge said he was concerned that Bundy was possibly coaching Bill Allen during his testimony. Bundy, of counsel to Dorsey & Whitney in Anchorage, Alaska, was in the gallery. Allen, former chief executive of VECO, an oil services company in Alaska, was on the stand.
The federal court’s grievance committee investigated and determined no further action was warranted. The committee sent a discharge letter last month to Bundy’s lawyer, Paul Knight, a Nossaman partner in Washington.
Knight said in a statement April 2 that Bundy was pleased the grievance committee "decided that no action would be taken and dismissed this matter at the preliminary informal stage. The Committee on Grievances was very fair to us and allowed us to make a full and complete presentation which showed there was never any improper conduct by Bob."
Dorsey & Whitney's managing partner in D.C., Creighton "Chip" Magid, said in a statement: "Dorsey & Whitney is very pleased with the outcome, which vindicates what we've said all along: that Bob Bundy is an excellent lawyer of the highest integrity."
The grievance committee takes referrals of alleged misconduct from the public and from judges. If charges are sustained, a court disciplinary panel can reprimand, censure, suspend, disbar or otherwise discipline a lawyer. Bundy appeared pro hac vice in federal district court in Washington as Allen’s counsel.
In court, Sullivan sternly lectured Bundy after the judge said he saw Bundy trying to influence how Allen responded during cross-examination.
“Well, let me tell you one thing: Don't you ever come in this courtroom and nod to any witness in an effort to influence an answer. Do you understand me?” Sullivan told Bundy, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Alaska, in court on Oct. 6, 2008, according to a transcript.
More after the jump.
Williams & Connolly partner Brendan Sullivan Jr., a lawyer for Stevens, told the judge that he didn’t see the exchange. Justice Department Public Integrity Section supervisor Brenda Morris also said she did not see Bundy make any signals to Allen. Judge Sullivan said he only saw Bundy once apparently signal to Allen. “I can't say that I watched him. If I had seen it earlier, I would have said something to him,” the judge said.
“It's entirely inappropriate. I can't imagine an attorney doing that,” Judge Sullivan said in court.
The next day in court Judge Sullivan said, “I know what I saw. I know exactly what I saw, and I saw someone attempting to communicate with a witness in a way that suggests … how a question should be answered.” Sullivan said in court it was “fortunate” Bundy was allowed to leave the court on his own “instead of the back door with the marshals yesterday.”
The judge, saying there were potential self-incrimination issues, did not question Bundy. And the judge did not interrupt the trial to investigate the matter. At least one other lawyer in the courtroom that day reportedly saw what the attorney thought were signals from Bundy to Allen, according to court records.
Dorsey & Whitney's Magid, another lawyer for Allen, defended Bundy in court on Oct. 7, 2008.
“I can tell you that Mr. Bundy is absolutely torn up by this, vehemently denies that there was any such action, and this isn't the place to take this up,” Magid said in court.