Senator Stevens Prosecutors to D.C. Circuit: “A district court cannot hold a litigant in criminal contempt, label it ‘civil contempt,’ and thereby insulate itself from meaningful appellate review.”

Prosecutors Brenda Morris and William Welch have finished briefing their appeal of Judge Emmet Sullivan’s contempt holding in No. 10-5372. Morris and Welch won a jury conviction against Senator Ted Stevens for making false statements about gifts he received, but the district court granted the Government’s motion to set aside the verdict when it was revealed that the prosecutors had withheld exculpatory evidence.

In their reply brief, the prosecutors argue the district court “failed to comply with the procedural requirements of” Fed. R. Crim. P. 42(a). But in October 2010, the district court said its February 2009 order was a civil contempt citation to which the criminal procedural rule does not apply.

Oral argument in In re: Contempt Finding in United States v. Stevens, No. 10-5372, is schedule for October 17, 2011, before Judges Rogers, Garland, and Edwards.

(Hat Tip: Blog of Legal Times)


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