Thursday, April 02, 2009

A return to impartiality in the U.S. Justice Department

The conviction of former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens will be overturned at the request of Attorney General Eric Holder due to prosecutorial misconduct, specifically the withholding of evidence from the defence. Exactly what should happen in a Justice Department that respects the rule of law.
The collapse of the Stevens case was a profound embarrassment for the Justice Department, and it raised troubling issues about the integrity of the actions of prosecutors who wield enormous power over people they investigate. Mr. Stevens’s case was handled by senior officials of the department’s Public Integrity Section, which handles official corruption cases.

Mr. Holder, himself a former prosecutor and judge, noted that the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility was conducting a review of the prosecutors’ conduct, raising the possibility that some of those who tried Mr. Stevens on ethics charges could themselves now face ethics charges.
The Obama administration has received criticism thus far for not unravelling Bush policies quickly enough, but this is a very good sign of impartial justice being restored after a long period of questionably motivated prosecutions.