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Monday, August 4, 2008 - Page updated at 09:23 AM More Politics

E-mail article Print view Share: Digg Newsvine It's wait and see after Bush signs rescue plan
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Under indictment and watching some Republican colleagues tiptoe away from him, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is counting on speed to Al Gore coming to Seattle for Gregoire fundraiser
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Stevens asked for, and received, a trial date in
September. Requesting such a schedule - eight
weeks from arraignment to trial - is nearly unheard of in public corruption cases, which often drag on months if
not years. Legal experts took the move both as a sign of confidence and as an example of Stevens'
trademark bulldozer personality.

"It's saying, 'Bring it on,'" said Hugh Keefe, a Connecticut white-collar defense attorney who teaches trial
advocacy at Yale University. "It's gutsy."

Assuming everything stays on track, voters will know in November whether the Senate's longest-serving
Republican lied about receiving $250,000 in gifts and home improvements from contractors.

"He'd like to clear his name before the election," attorney Brendan Sullivan said in court Thursday. The
attorney added: "This is not a complex case. It should be one that moves quickly."

"I am looking forward to this trial as a way of finally showing the truth - that I'm innocent," Stevens said in a
written statement late Thursday.

Defense attorneys normally aren't in a rush to go to trial. Sullivan, a $1,000-an-hour member of Washington's
legal elite, said he has never asked for such a fast track. He joked that he normally doesn't mind if a case
stretches on for years.
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"But I've never had a situation with a general election coming 98 days after an indictment," he said.
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government's case before the trial even begins. The shortened schedule offers less time for such a strategy. Vote for your favorite Northwest employers in the 2008
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But Washington defense attorney K. Lee Blalack said that's not going to matter as much in the Stevens case. More than 30 categories
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Stevens has known for more than a year that he was under investigation and his lawyers have had plenty of
time to gather their own evidence. The fact that Stevens is charged with making false statements as opposed
to a more complicated bribery allegation makes the decision to go to trial quickly even easier.

"The strategy is simple. He's counting on the fact that the government doesn't have its ducks in a row,"
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Morris offered to quickly turn over 500 gigabytes of evidence in the case, including wiretap conversations and
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Politics | Speed a 'gutsy' tactic in Stevens corrup... http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/... 10/4/2008 17:42

For Stevens, speed is also a political concern. He faces both Democratic and Republican challengers who Site map
are trying to capitalize on his legal woes. Democrats are counting on Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a
popular figure in Alaska and a member of a well-known political family, to keep Stevens from winning his
seventh full term.

A trial date a year from now wouldn't help Stevens weather the political storm. Assuming he survives the
upcoming primary, he would head into November as candidate under indictment. The faster schedule casts
Stevens as a fighter, a role he has relished on Capitol Hill, where "Incredible Hulk" neckties have become a
symbol of his famous temper.

Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Clinton and a veteran of politically charged investigations,
said Stevens is doing his best to seize control of a bad situation mid-campaign.

"Sen. Stevens has boldly demonstrated he believes he is innocent," Davis said. "The prosecutors will be
under great pressure after all this to prove their case."

Of course, he added, this only ends up being a brilliant move if Stevens wins at trial.

But defense attorney and former prosecutor E. Lawrence Barcella said that doesn't change with time.
Stevens is probably as likely to win in eight weeks as he is in a year.

"Some defense cases improve with age. This isn't likely to be one of them," he said.

Stevens is also asking a judge to move the trial to Alaska. He has been a political force there since before
statehood and, despite the FBI investigation, he remains popular and is still known to many as "Uncle Ted."

About an hour after Stevens left court, Anchorage homebuilder Chuck Spinelli was picking up Stevens
re-election signs for his yard. He said he planned to display them at his home, his office and on his trucks.

"People of Alaska have hired him to bring money back to this state," Spinelli said. "He has done that over and
over and over again. Whatever these charges are, he deserves the respect and our admiration. We should
wait to see what actually happens before there's a call to do anything."

Prosecutors oppose the idea of moving the trial and a federal judge said he was not likely to allow it.

---

Associated Press writer Dan Joling contributed to this report from Anchorage.

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