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The Verdict

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A Washington jury found Senator Ted Stevens guilty on all seven counts of failing to report gifts. The 84 year-old senator has represented Alaska for 40 years, and is up for re-election next week.
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The senator betrayed little emotion as the verdict was read, but he appeared tired and lowered his head as the jury foreman answered the first of seven “guilty”s.

 

Closing Arguments

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Lawyers for both sides argued for nearly six hours yesterday to the jury in the trial of Senator Ted Stevens, who is accused of failing to report gifts he received.
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Referring to the massage chair prosecutor Joseph Bottini asked : “Does anyone really believe he thought that chair was a loan?. What were the terms of this loan? Zero percent interest for 84
months?”
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Senator Stevens’ attorney, Brendan Sullivan, told the jurors : “Without sufficient evidence, the government comes here late in the
night of a good man’s life and tries to brand him a criminal.”

After being instructed in the law by the judge the jury began their deliberations, or maybe ordered lunch, at 11:58 today.

AP story here.

What’s a gift?

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Testimony in the trial of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens concluded today with prosecutor Brenda Morris interrogating the senator about a massage chair given to him by a friend.

Morris: That chair, it’s still in your house?
Stevens: Yes.
Morris: How is that not a gift?
Stevens: He bought that chair as a gift, but I refused it as a gift. He put it there and said it was my chair. I told him I would not accept
it as a gift. We have lots of things in our house that don’t belong to
us.

Morris: So, if you say it’s not a gift, it’s not a gift?

Closing arguments tomorrow. The jury to begin deliberations on Wednesday.

NYT story here.

“My bottom wasn’t bare, ma’am,”

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Part of Senator Stevens’ defense against the accusation that he did not report expensive improvements to his Alaska “chalet” is that he never received a bill.  Prosecutor Brenda Sullivan, referring to emails in which the senator discussed billing, suggested that the emails were sent just “to cover your bottom?” “My bottom wasn’t bare, ma’am,” the crusty 84 year-old “lion of the Senate” shot back.

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Cross-examination of the senator continues Monday. Closing arguments are expected on Tuesday.

Washington Post story here.

Urbina Frees the Uighurs

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Applause erupted in a packed courtroom today after Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the government to bring 17 Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo for the past seven years into his courtroom at 10am Friday.  The Uighur detainees, whom the government concedes are not enemy combatants, have no country willing to take them in, and return to China would likely mean imprisonment or worse.

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Judge further ordered that the Uighurs are not to be questioned or detained by immigration officials. “Nothing will happen to these people,” he said.

The government is likely to seek a stay of the order from the Court of Appeals.

Washington Post story is here.