This just gets worse and worse...
Last week, as we told you
, defense lawyers for Ted Stevens formally asked the judge in his case to hold the prosecution in contempt, after a string of incidents in which the government was found to have withheld information from the defense.
And now Judge Emmet Sullivan has done so, reports
the Associated Press.
Last month, Sullivan ordered prosecutors to turn over FBI documents concerning a whistleblower complaint against the agent leading the investigation into the former Alaska senator.
But they didn't, provoking the wrath of Judge Sullivan:
"That was a court order," he bellowed. "That wasn't a request. I didn't ask for them out of the kindness of your hearts. ... Isn't the Department of Justice taking court orders seriously these days?"
He said he didn't want to get "sidetracked" by deciding a sanction immediately and would deal with their punishment later. But he ordered them to produce the material by the end of the day.
"That's outrageous for the Department of Justice -- the largest law firm on the planet," he said. "That is not acceptable in this court."
This is just the latest embarrassment for the Justice Department in the case. In late January, the head of the department's Public Integrity Section admitted in writing to Judge Sullivan that he erred when he said that a group of government employees, who were cited in the FBI agent's publicly-filed complaint wanted their story to be made public. Some didn't, it turned out.
Stevens, the former Alaska GOP senator, was convicted last fall of filing false disclosure reports to hide gifts from an oil-services contractor. He is appealing the conviction.