Ted Stevens' Charges Dropped: A Tale of Two Justice Systems

For the wealthy and the powerful, exculpatory evidence is important.

Editor's note: this originally appeared on AlterNet's blog, PEEK.

It's immaterial that former Alaska senator Ted Stevens was a loathsome, quasi-corrupt slug of a human being (not sure a slug can be called "cantankerous," as Stevens was routinely described, but let's let that slide). Justice was served today with Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to request that the charges against Stevens be dropped. Prosecutors played fast-and-loose with the rules, they withheld evidence from the defense -- among other charges of prosecutorial misconduct -- and now the Ethics Division lawyers who prosecuted the case appear to be facing ethics investigations themselves.

 And now the old senate stalwart will spend his retirement bouncing those grand-kids on his knee instead of staring out at the world from behind prison bars.

But the case also highlights the fact that we have -- and have always had -- two justice systems, one for those with the means to work it and the other for the rest of us.

Let's be clear about one thing: although Stevens is now "innocent" in the eyes of the law, there is no reason to believe that he didn't, in fact, receive tens of thousands of dollars in undisclosed gifts from Alaska tycoon Bill Allen. In fact, the final straw that broke the case was the disclosure that prosecutors had withheld notes from an interview with Allen in which the latter had estimated the value of the goods he'd given Stevens at $80,000 rather than the approximately $250,000 prosecutors had claimed.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.
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