The Justice Department replacement team in the Ted Stevens post-trial litigation made their first public court appearance Tuesday, and from the sound if it, the lawyers are striking a new, conciliatory tone.
A month ago, a group of Justice Department prosecutors -- including William Welch II, chief of the Public Integrity Section -- were on the wrong end of a federal judge's ire and found themselves held in contempt for violating two court orders in the post-trial litigation.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan excoriated the trial prosecution for failing to turn over documents to Stevens' Williams & Connolly defense team, starring partner Brendan Sullivan Jr. Justice tapped several lawyers to respond to the allegations of misconduct.
One of the new Justice lawyers in the case, Paul O'Brien, chief of the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, used the word "voluntarily" more than five times Tuesday at a status hearing in the Stevens case. The government, O'Brien repeated, planned to voluntarily turn over documents to Stevens' lawyers amid challenges to the trial based on alleged prosecutorial and FBI misconduct.
O'Brien asked for and received an extension of time to allow the government to continue turning over documents -- including witness statements -- stemming from a whistle-blower complaint filed by an FBI agent. Stevens' lawyers did not oppose the request for an extension.
The whistle-blower complaint alleges, among other things, that a prosecutor schemed to withhold documents from Stevens' lawyers and that an FBI agent had an inappropriate relationship with the government's star witness during the trial. Counsel for Stevens has incorporated the complaint in a motion for a new trial.
Joining O'Brien in court Tuesday were David Jaffe, the deputy chief of the Domestic Security Section, and William Stuckwisch, senior trial attorney in the Fraud Section. At the end of the hearing, the judge called the government request for additional time "reasonable."
O'Brien, Jaffe and Stuckwisch then gathered up their stuff and rode the elevator down with Stevens' lawyers, including partners Rob Cary, Alex Romain and Craig Singer. The lawyers are all set to return to court April 15 for a status conference.
This article first appeared on The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.