Judge Allows DOJ To Call Key Witness, Softens Proposed Jury Instructions

Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is presiding over the corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), allowed federal prosecutors to call Dave Anderson, a key witness against the senator.

Anderson oversaw renovation work at Stevens' home in Girdwood, Alaska, allegedly paid for by VECO Corp., an Alaska oil-services company. The Justice Department has indicted Stevens on charges that the accepted more than $250,000 in improper gifts from Bill Allen, former CEO of VECO, and others. Stevens allegedly did not report the gifts on his annual financial disclosure forms.

Anderson has not testified against Stevens once in this case, but Judge Sullivan allowed him to be called even after the court excluded some VECO billing records stating that Anderson worked on Stevens' home in late 2000. Anderson told a federal grand jury that he was in Portland, Ore., for the last three months of that year. Prosecutors failed to disclose that fact to the defense team, which caused Judge Sullivan to exclude a portion of the VECO business from the trial.

Stevens' lawyers objected to having Anderson appear on the stand, but Judge Sullivan overruled them.

Judge Sullivan also said on Wednesday that he was going to issue instructions to the jury stipulating that prosecutors deliberately told false information to the jury, but he softened the proposed instructions after prosecutors objected.

Anderson's appearance on Thursday will delay appearances by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) on Stevens' behalf.

Update - Judge Sullivan just ruled that Anderson will testify, the prosecution will rest, then he will issue his modified jury instructions, followed by several hours of argument on a defense motion for acquittal. Inouye, who has to return to Hawaii, will testify today, followed by a full day in court tomorrow. The case will then be adjourned until Tuesday, as Monday is the Columbus Day holiday.