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Stevens Formally Seeks Change Of Venue For Corruption Trial

Attorneys for indicted Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) formally filed a motion today to move his upcoming corruption trial to Alaska, arguing that the "center of gravity" of the case is in Alaska, not Washington, D.C., where Stevens was charged.

Stevens was indicted last week by a federal grand jury in Washington for failing to dislcose more than $250,000 in gifts that he had received from oil services company VECO Corp., as well as its former CEO Bill Allen, most notably extensive renovations on Stevens' home in Girdwood, Alaska. Stevens has denied all allegations of wrongdoing, and he asked for a speedy trial.

But if Stevens' legal team, led by Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly, pursues a lengthy legal battle over venue, it could drag his trial beyond Election Day. Stevens was first appointed to the Senate in 1968, and he is seeking re-election to a sixth full term as a senator.

Although Senator Stevens’s public representation requires him to spend time in  both Alaska and the District of Columbia, he has been a legal resident of Alaska for more than fifty years. Presently, Senator Stevens is in the middle of a reelection campaign, and he is required to spend much of his time in his home state of Alaska," Stevens' attorneys wrote. "he Senate is currently in recess until September and intends to adjourn again in late September for the general election...This factor weighs heavily in favor of transfer."

They added: "Moreover, Senator Stevens’s residence in Alaska is the focus of the indictment.
The value of renovations to his Girdwood residence is central to both the government’s case and
the Senator’s defense. To assist the jury in understanding these renovations, Senator Stevens
intends to request that the Court permit a jury visit to his Girdwood residence – an option that
obviously would not be convenient for a Washington, D.C. jury.

Moreover, it makes little sense  to hold this trial over 3,000 miles from the renovations (the value of which is clearly in dispute)  that lie at the heart of this case."

The defense also points out that most of the potential witnesses in the case, both for the Justice Department and on Stevens' behalf, live in Alaska.
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