The Department of Justice today asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to remand the cases of former Alaska State Representatives Victor Kohring and Peter Kott, who were convicted on corruption charges in 2007, to the District Court. The Department also asked the Court of Appeals to release the two on personal recognizance, after the Department uncovered material that appears to be information that should have been, but was not, disclosed to the defense prior to trial.
Attorney General Eric Holder also instructed the Department’s Criminal Division to review the Department’s public corruption investigation in Alaska to ensure that all other discovery obligations have been met.
"After a careful review of these cases, I have determined that it appears that the Department did not provide information that should have been disclosed to the defense," Holder said. "Department of Justice prosecutors work hard every day and perform a great service for the American people. But the Department’s mission is to do justice, not just win cases, and when we make mistakes, it is our duty to admit and correct those mistakes. We are committed to doing that."
"The Criminal Division must ensure that defendants receive all appropriate discovery materials, and today’s action demonstrates that commitment to this responsibility," said Lanny A. Breuer, Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. "We will continue regular discovery training for all Criminal Division prosecutors to make certain that they perform their duties in adherence to the highest ethical standards. Every day, hundreds of career prosecutors work to uphold this Division’s proud tradition of being vigilant, ethical and stellar in the execution of their work. This action is faithful to that tradition."
Kohring was convicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska on Nov. 1, 2007, of bribery and extortion-related charges. He was sentenced on May 9, 2008, to 42 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Kott was convicted on Sept. 25, 2007, of bribery and extortion-related charges and was sentenced on 72 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
In April, after the dismissal of charges against former Sen. Theodore F. Stevens, Attorney General Holder instituted comprehensive steps to enhance the Department’s compliance with rules that require the government to turn over evidence to the defense in criminal cases.
Since the launch of those reforms, the Department has been providing supplemental training to federal prosecutors on discovery obligations and has established a working group of senior prosecutors and Department officials from each component to review discovery practices and the need for additional improvements, resources and training.