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Feds Oppose Stevens' Bid To Move Trial To Alaska

Federal prosecutors are vigorously opposing an effort by Sen. Ted Stevens to have his corruption trial moved to his home state of Alaska, pointing out that the alleged crimes were committed in Washington, Stevens resides in Washington and all the evidence is in the federal courthouse in Washington.

In paperwork filed today, the government also warns that Stevens' campaigning in Alaska would taint the jury pool in his home state, where he is a political legend. 

Stevens, a Republican, faces a Sept. 22 trial date for seven felony counts of failure to disclose gifts and services received from an Alaskan contractor who undertook major renovations of his Alaskan chalet. All told, Stevens is accused of receiving $250,000 in goods and services from Veco Corp., the Alaskan oil services firm at the center of a broad political scandal.

The federal government's response today was expected, and the judge will make a ruling in the coming weeks about a venue change. At this point, with a firm date for the trial to begin and the promise that the trial will end within three weeks, it seems unlikely Stevens will win this round of legal wrangling. Because he is charged with a federal finanical disclosure violation, the alleged crimes would have occurred in the Senate, and not in Alaska, another reason why prosecutors want to keep the case in Washington.

In its filing just released by the Department of Justice, prosecutors warn that with "the obvious media attention in Alaska that will be afforded to its sitting senator campaigning while on trial," an Alaskan jury would have to be sequestered, further complicating the trial if it were moved to Stevens home state.

Prosecutors also argue that "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."