The embarrassingly mishandled prosecution of then-Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) was the sort of thing you figured would be addressed as soon as the new hands took over DOJ, but today a federal district judge in DC held prosecutors in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents to the defense by a court-ordered deadline:
During Friday’s hearing, Sullivan repeatedly asked three Justice Department attorneys sitting at the prosecution’s table whether they had some reason not to turn over the documents. They finally acknowledged they did not, and Sullivan exploded in anger.
“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.”
Sullivan held all three attorneys sitting at the table in contempt and demanded repeatedly to know who else was involved in withholding the information. Another government attorney sitting in the back of the courtroom stood up and gave her name.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.