Legislature(2015 - 2016)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/23/2015 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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01:34:20 PM Start
01:34:23 PM HJR15
01:45:35 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled:
Scheduled but Not Heard
<Bill Postponed to 3/25/15>
Moved CSHJR 15(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HJR 15-HONOR TED STEVENS; DISCIPLINE PROSECUTORS                                                                    
1:34:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MCGUIRE   announced  the   consideration  of  HJR   15,  a                                                               
resolution 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.  [CSHJR 15(JUD)  was before                                                               
the committee.]                                                                                                                 
1:34:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BOB  HERON, sponsor  of  HJR  15, introduced  the                                                               
legislation speaking to the following 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.                                                                                                       
1:35:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI and SENATOR COGHILL joined the committee.                                                                  
CHAIR MCGUIRE highlighted a possible conflict of interest                                                                       
because she had worked for Senator Stevens.                                                                                     
She  described  the  first  resolve on  page  3  as  particularly                                                               
important, denouncing the decision  to reverse the suspensions of                                                               
the  federal  prosecutors  who intentionally  withheld  evidence.                                                               
It's important that  citizens know that there is  recourse if the                                                               
government's  powers to  investigate and  prosecute are  used for                                                               
political  purposes or  to unfairly  prosecute  an American,  she                                                               
1:38:51 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL thanked  the  sponsor  and expressed  particular                                                               
appreciation  that  the  Alaska   Bar  Association  is  asked  to                                                               
determine whether  any prosecutors  in the Stevens  case violated                                                               
the Alaska Rules of Professional  Conduct. He said he appreciated                                                               
that   the  late   Senator  Stevens   looked  out   for  Alaskans                                                               
1:39:50 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM   MCKEEVER,   representing   himself   Seattle,   Washington,                                                               
testified  in   support  of  HJR   15.  He  explained   that  the                                                               
prosecutors who  clearly violated their obligations  appealed the                                                               
sanctions  imposed by  the Department  of Justice.  Because of  a                                                               
procedural   error,   the   appellate  review   resulted   in   a                                                               
determination  that  the  sanctions  could not  be  imposed.  The                                                               
effect is that the prosecutors  got away without being penalized.                                                               
He opined that it is  appropriate for the legislature to chastise                                                               
the  conduct that  resulted in  those problems  and to  recognize                                                               
Senator Steven's role serving Alaska.                                                                                           
CHAIR  MCGUIRE  found no  further  testifiers  and closed  public                                                               
testimony of HJR 15.                                                                                                            
1:41:36 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON  highlighted that  Representative Gruenberg                                                               
also  worked for  Senator Stevens.  He related  that just  before                                                               
Senator  Stevens   was  indicted  he  called   an  all  employees                                                               
teleconference  and  showed  such   strength  that  everyone  was                                                               
speechless. He cautioned that if  this can happen to arguably one                                                               
of the most powerful Alaskans that  has ever served the state, it                                                               
could happen to anyone.                                                                                                         
CHAIR  MCGUIRE   said  what  bothered   her  the  most   was  the                                                               
potentially chilling  effect it  might have on  lawmakers willing                                                               
to take strong issues. That's  why it's important that the powers                                                               
of all three branches of government are kept in check, she said.                                                                
SENATOR  MICCICHE said  this  case shook  his  confidence in  the                                                               
system.  He  opined   that  this  should  be  a   test  case  for                                                               
prosecutors going forward, because it changed history.                                                                          
1:44:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL motioned  to report CS for HJR  15 from committee                                                               
with   individual  recommendations   and  attached   zero  fiscal                                                               
CHAIR MCGUIRE announced that without  objection, CSHJR 15(JUD) is                                                               
reported from the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
1 HJR15 Sponsor Statement.pdf SJUD 3/23/2015 1:30:00 PM
HJR 15
2 HJR CSHJR15 Version L.pdf SJUD 3/23/2015 1:30:00 PM
3 HJR15 - Summary of Changes (for Senate JUD).pdf SJUD 3/23/2015 1:30:00 PM
4 HJR15 Fiscal Note #1.pdf SJUD 3/23/2015 1:30:00 PM
5 HJR 15 - House JUD Committee Report.pdf SJUD 3/23/2015 1:30:00 PM