Judge In Stevens Trial: Some Evidence Tainted

A federal judge has ruled that some key evidence in the trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens will be struck from the case. Judge Emmet Sullivan will tell the jury to disregard it because of prosecutorial misconduct. Stevens is accused of not including gifts and services he received on his Senate financial disclosure forms.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Renee is on assignment. I'm Steve Inskeep. A federal judge has dealt a blow to the prosecution in the corruption case against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that some key evidence will be struck from this case. The jury will be instructed to disregard it because of prosecutorial misconduct. Here's NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.

NINA TOTENBERG: The judge has repeatedly rebuked prosecutors over a variety of missteps mainly involving the prosecution's failure to follow legal rules that require it to turn over information that's favorable to Senator Stevens. This week, for example, the defense learned that two workmen on Senator Stevens' home renovation testified before the grand jury that they did not work the hours reflected in billing records. One of the workmen actually testified he was out of the state for seven of the weeks that had been billed and absorbed by Stevens' benefactor.

Prosecutors had presented those billing records as evidence that Stevens did not disclose, as required by law, gifts and services he'd received. So yesterday, Judge Sullivan ordered the record struck and said he will instruct the jury today that the government introduced evidence it knew to be false. In short, he refused to declare a mistrial, but at the same time fired a canon through the prosecutions case. Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington.

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