The Justice Department isn’t keen on the idea, considering that almost everything it needs for a successful prosecution is here in the District. In the government’s opposition to Stevens’ motion for a change of venue, filed Monday, DOJ lawyers write:
If this case is transferred to the District of Alaska, the following must travel to Alaska for
trial: the Judge and his staff, the defendant, defense counsel, much of the evidence, the witnesses from Washington, D.C., and the witnesses from other jurisdictions. If the case remains in the District of Columbia, where the crimes took place and the indictment was properly returned, the government’s witnesses from Alaska and other states must travel, at no expense to themselves. Accordingly, Stevens’ motion should be denied.
Even more interesting, the government is protesting a move to Alaska, because Stevens, who is up for reelection, is using the charges against him as a campaign issue.
The government fears that giving Stevens even more time to campaign will taint an Alaska jury pool:
Given Stevens’ stated reason for requesting a venue transfer – to campaign on nights and weekends – it is fair to assume that Stevens’ campaign activities will continue, if not increase dramatically, as the general election approaches. Furthermore, it is fair to assume that Stevens’ campaign activities will include, among other things, speeches, debates, and a significant number of campaign events. Finally, it is fair to assume that Stevens will continue to proclaim his innocence in public fora and will continue to offer explanations and characterizations of the factual and legal issues in the case.
Although it might very well be that the significant amount of Stevens’ pretrial campaign activities (as well as those of his opponents) could potentially taint a jury pool in Alaska, there can be no question that his proposal to campaign during the trial poses severe problems. We submit that a trial jury in the District of Columbia, with normal instructions by the Court, would not have to be sequestered and could continue to participate meaningfully in the fall 2008 election process.
Read the full brief here, which also provides some insight into the government’s case against Stevens here: stevensresp-to-venue-motion