Updated 12:41 p.m.
A federal appeals court in Washington has refused to block the imminent publication of the Ted Stevens prosecutorial misconduct report, rejecting a U.S. Justice Department lawyer's request to stay the release of the investigation.
The prosecutor opposed to the release of the report, Edward Sullivan, had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to postpone the scheduled March 15 publication date. The trial judge who oversaw the botched prosecution of Stevens chose the release date.
The 500-page Stevens report documents the government misconduct claims that doomed the case against of Stevens, the late Alaska senator, in Washington on public corruption charges. Two prosecutors on the case, Brenda Morris and William Welch II, the former chief of the DOJ Public Integrity Section, did not oppose the release of the report.
The special investigator assigned to the Stevens case does not recommend criminal contempt charges be filed against any of the prosecutors. Still, the report from Henry “Hank” Schuelke III found systematic government malfeasance.
Sullivan’s attorney, Steptoe & Johnson white-collar defense partner Brian Heberlig, filed emergency papers under seal in the D.C. Circuit urging the court to stay the release date.
The prosecutors who were opposed to the public disclosure of the report had argued, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, that Schuelke’s investigation was akin to a grand jury probe and should therefore follow certain secrecy rules.
Heberlig declined to comment this morning on the D.C. Circuit decision. He has previously said that Sullivan played a marginal role in the Stevens prosecution and that "there is no basis to conclude that Mr. Sullivan concealed exculpatory information from the defense in the Stevens case." Heberlig said last November that Sullivan should not have been a target of the special prosecutor's investigation in the first place.
"Indeed, the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility fully exonerated Mr. Sullivan in its own investigation of this matter and the Department has brought Mr. Sullivan back to the Public Integrity Section to resume his career as a prosecutor,” Heberlig said in the statement.
The appellate court panel’s per curiam ruling today said Sullivan “has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending appeal.”
D.C. Circuit Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson, David Tatel and Janice Rogers Brown comprised the panel.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. last week said on Capitol Hill that Schuelke's report includes "disturbing findings." Holder said he is hopeful DOJ can share with the public an internal report that examined potential ethics violations.