Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 120

02/27/2015 01:00 PM House JUDICIARY

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01:04:25 PM Start
01:04:34 PM HJR15
01:25:10 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
Moved CSHJR 15(JUD) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 27, 2015                                                                                        
                           1:04 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Wes Keller, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Charisse Millett                                                                                                 
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
Representative Matt Claman                                                                                                      
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Chair                                                                                          
Representative Neal Foster                                                                                                      
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 15                                                                                                   
Denouncing  the  decision  to  reverse  the  suspensions  of  the                                                               
federal  prosecutors  who   intentionally  withheld  evidence  of                                                               
innocence from the  defense of Senator Ted  Stevens; and honoring                                                               
the service of Senator Ted Stevens.                                                                                             
     - MOVED CSHJR 15(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HJR 15                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: HONOR TED STEVENS; DISCIPLINE PROSECUTORS                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST                                                                                                    
02/13/15       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/13/15       (H)       JUD                                                                                                    
02/27/15       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE BOB HERRON                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HJR 15 on behalf of the House                                                                  
Rules Committee and answered questions.                                                                                         
TIM MCKEEVER                                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Testified  in support  of  United  States                                                             
Senator Ted Stevens and HJR 15.                                                                                                 
ACTION NARRATIVE:                                                                                                             
1:04:25 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR  WES  KELLER  called  the  House  Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order  at   1:04  p.m.    Representatives                                                               
Millett, Gruenberg, Lynn, and Keller  were present at the call to                                                               
order.   Representative  Claman  arrived as  the  meeting was  in                                                               
        HJR 15-HONOR TED STEVENS; DISCIPLINE PROSECUTORS                                                                    
1:04:34 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR KELLER  announced  that the  only  order of  business                                                               
would be HOUSE  JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 15,  Denouncing the decision                                                               
to  reverse  the  suspensions  of  the  federal  prosecutors  who                                                               
intentionally withheld evidence of  innocence from the defense of                                                               
Senator  Ted Stevens;  and honoring  the service  of Senator  Ted                                                               
1:04:41 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BOB HERRON,  Alaska State Legislature, paraphrased                                                               
the following sponsor statement [original punctuation provided]:                                                                
     "Denouncing the decision to  reverse the suspensions of                                                                  
     the   federal   prosecutors  who   knowingly   withheld                                                                  
     evidence of  innocence from the defense  of Senator Ted                                                                  
     Stevens;  and  honoring  the  service  of  Senator  Ted                                                                  
     Sponsor Statement                                                                                                        
     Senator   Stevens  contributions   to  the   state  are                                                                    
     obviously  too long  to list,  but included  helping to                                                                    
     craft  key  federal   legislation  that  has  immensely                                                                    
     benefited  Alaska, such  as  the  Alaska Native  Claims                                                                    
     Settlement     Act,    the     Trans-Alaska    Pipeline                                                                    
     Authorization  Act,  and the  Magnuson-Stevens  Fishery                                                                    
     Conservation  and Management  Act.   On July  29, 2008,                                                                    
     Alaskan  Senator Theodore  Fulton  "Ted" Stevens,  Sr.,                                                                    
     was  wrongfully  indicted   for  allegedly  failing  to                                                                    
     disclose the  value of renovations to  his cabin. After                                                                    
     trial,  Attorney General  of  the  United States,  Eric                                                                    
     Holder, asked  that the  verdict be  set aside  when it                                                                    
     was  discovered  that  federal  prosecutors  unlawfully                                                                    
     withheld exonerating  evidence from the  defense. Judge                                                                    
     Sullivan  subsequently appointed  a special  counsel to                                                                    
     investigate the prosecutors. On May 23, 2012, United                                                                       
     States  Associate  Deputy  Attorney  General  Scott  N.                                                                    
     Schools   issued  a   final   decision  approving   the                                                                    
     disciplinary action proposed by  Kevin Ohlson, chief of                                                                    
     the Professional  Misconduct Review unit,  that federal                                                                    
     prosecutor Joseph Bottini be  suspended for 45 days and                                                                    
     federal  prosecutor. James  Goeke be  suspended for  15                                                                    
     days.  On  January  2, 2015  the  United  States  Merit                                                                    
     Systems  Protection Board  upheld a  2013 ruling  by an                                                                    
     administrative  judge finding  that  the United  States                                                                    
     Department of  Justice violated its  own rules  when it                                                                    
     suspended prosecutors Joseph Bottini and James Goeke.                                                                      
     HJR 15 Resolves that the Alaska State Legislature:                                                                         
     •  Supports the  full and  fair exoneration  of Senator                                                                    
     Ted Stevens;                                                                                                               
     • Denounces the decision  to reverse the suspensions of                                                                    
     the  federal  prosecutors  who  intentionally  withhold                                                                    
     evidence from the defense of Senator Stevens;                                                                              
     •  Requests   the  Alaska  Bar   Association  determine                                                                    
     whether  federal   prosecutors  in  the   Stevens  case                                                                    
     violated the Alaska Rules of Professional Conduct;                                                                         
     •  Honors  the   distinguished  leadership  of  Senator                                                                    
     Stevens to the State of  Alaska on many issues that the                                                                    
     state still faces today; and                                                                                               
     •  Further honors  the importance  of Senator  Stevens'                                                                    
     service and  legacy as a  vital part of the  history of                                                                    
     the State of Alaska.                                                                                                       
1:09:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON continued  that is  seems ironic  that two                                                               
wrongs were  allowed in  the case of  Senator Stevens  and opined                                                               
that within the  purview of the Department of  Justice two wrongs                                                               
equal one  right against the  powerful United States  Senator Ted                                                               
Stevens.   He advised that  what happened  to "Uncle Ted"  ... if                                                               
you become  a target  of the Department  of Justice  for whatever                                                               
reason the same thing can happen to anyone.                                                                                     
1:10:57 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR  KELLER advised that  the committee had  just received                                                               
an Omnibus Amendment to HJR 15 from Representative Gruenberg.                                                                   
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
1:11:57 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR KELLER opened public testimony.                                                                                      
1:12:04 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM  MCKEEVER, stated  he worked  with Senator  Stevens for  many                                                               
years  and  opined   that  HJR  15  should  be   adopted  by  the                                                               
legislature.   He  further opined  that it  is warranted  for the                                                               
legislature to  acknowledge his  [many years  of service]  and to                                                               
address the  misconduct of the  prosecutors.  The  principle goal                                                               
of a prosecutor  is to do justice and not  necessarily to convict                                                               
people regardless of  the evidence, and to make  sure evidence is                                                               
presented so  it can  be properly evaluated  and considered.   He                                                               
said the record shows that  the prosecutors involved in this case                                                               
disregarded that  obligation, presented evidence they  knew to be                                                               
false, and  failed to disclose exculpatory  evidence showing that                                                               
the Senator  had not  performed the conduct  they described.   He                                                               
expressed  it  is unfortunate  that  although  the Department  of                                                               
Justice initially determined that  the prosecutors deserved "what                                                               
is  probably a  very mild  sanction" for  their misconduct.   The                                                               
Department of  Justice then  mishandled the  investigation review                                                               
process  which ultimately  lead  to the  decision  by the  United                                                               
States  Merit   Systems  Protection   Board  that   although  the                                                               
prosecutors  had  acted  improperly,   the  punishment  that  the                                                               
Department of  Justice had proposed  was inadequate  or improper.                                                               
He urged the  legislature to enact HJR 15 to  recognize and honor                                                               
Senator Stevens.                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR  KELLER closed public testimony  after ascertaining no                                                               
one further wished to testify.                                                                                                  
1:14:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  moved to adopt Conceptual  Amendment 1,                                                               
which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                     
     Page 1,  line 7,  before "Senator"  insert "Republican"                                                                    
     and delete his party"                                                                                                      
     Page  1,   line  10   delete  "immensely"   and  insert                                                                    
     "greatly" and delete "certainly"                                                                                           
     Query, page  1, lines  13-14, should "pro  tempore" and                                                                    
     "pro tempore emeritus" be capitalized                                                                                      
     Page 2, lines 5-6,  before "United States" insert "the"                                                                    
     and after  "guilty" insert "District Court  Judge Emmet                                                                    
     G.  Sullivan"  and before  "on  July"  insert "for  the                                                                    
     District of Columbia"                                                                                                      
     Page 2, lines 12, after "Judge", delete "Emmet G."                                                                         
     Page  2, line  14,  after "indictment"  delete ";"  and                                                                    
     insert ","                                                                                                                 
     Page  3, line  5, after  "Association" insert"  and any                                                                    
     other appropriate bar associations"                                                                                        
     Page 3, line  6, after "Conduct" insert  "and any other                                                                    
     applicable codes of professional conduct"                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN objected for purposes of discussion.                                                                      
1:15:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG advised that the conceptual amendment                                                                  
is mainly grammatical.                                                                                                          
1:16:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved to adopt Amendment 1 to                                                                          
Conceptual Amendment 1, which read [original punctuation                                                                        
     Page 2 line 11 after "critical" delete ","                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG requested unanimous consent that                                                                       
Amendment 1 to Conceptual Amendment 1 be adopted.                                                                               
VICE CHAIR KELLER said seeing no objection, Amendment 1 to                                                                      
Conceptual Amendment 1 is adopted.                                                                                              
1:18:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON remarked  that Conceptual  Amendment 1  is                                                               
"outstanding" and advised  that Representative Gruenberg, Senator                                                               
McGuire, and himself, previously worked for "Senator Ted."                                                                      
1:19:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  referred to adding "Republican"  rather than                                                               
"his  party" and  remarked this  is about  a person  more than  a                                                               
party.   He  questioned  whether this  [sentence]  makes it  more                                                               
partisan  than it  should be  and suggested  taking any  partisan                                                               
reference out of HJR 15.                                                                                                        
1:20:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  opined that  Senator Stevens  was proud                                                               
of his  party and it was  appropriate to give the  party a little                                                               
credit.    Representative  Gruenberg  offered  to  withdraw  that                                                               
portion of the amendment.                                                                                                       
1:20:42 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN said he is  comfortable either way and wanted                                                               
to lay  the idea on  the table for comments.   He opined  he does                                                               
not want  it to  be partisan because  Senator Stevens  would have                                                               
been a good senator for either party.                                                                                           
1:21:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  said  he   likes  the  amendment  because                                                               
Senator Stevens valued the party and the platform of the party.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  said   she  agrees  with  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg on the republican [amendment].                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN withdrew his objection.                                                                                   
1:22:19 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR  KELLER  stated that  seeing  no  further  objection,                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 1 is adopted.                                                                                              
VICE  CHAIR   KELLER  put  HJR   15  before  the   committee  for                                                               
1:22:33 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  advised  that  he  and  Representative                                                               
Herron  have accumulated  documents for  the committee's  review.                                                               
He pointed out that there have  been a number of exonerations ...                                                               
"I  have an  article that  says exonerations  hit record  high in                                                               
2014."   He explained  that those  [calculations] are  across the                                                               
country, and another [article] reads  "hundreds of department ...                                                               
justice  department attorneys  violated professional  rules, laws                                                               
or  ethical  standards",  which  is from  the  POGO  [Project  on                                                               
Government  Oversight] report.   He  offered that  Texas Governor                                                               
Rick Perry signed  a law that aims to  avoid wrongful convictions                                                               
by preventing prosecutors from suppressing  evidence and he would                                                               
be researching this issue.                                                                                                      
1:24:40 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  moved  to  report HJR  15,  Version  29-                                                               
LS0410\F,   as  amended,   out  of   committee  with   individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no objection, CSHJR 15(JUD), moved from committee.                                                                              
1:25:10 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 1:25 p.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR15 - vers F.PDF HJUD 2/27/2015 1:00:00 PM
HJR 15
HJR15 - Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 2/27/2015 1:00:00 PM
HJR 15