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Montana Fed Judge Blasts Prosecutors in Asbestos Criminal Trial

missoula-montanaThe pain of the Sen. Ted Stevens case still languishes. In that case, the government was accused of misconduct that included  failing to turn over documents to the defense. The conviction was vacated. Now comes this case where the allegations are similar and the judge, just like in the Stevens case, is steaming mad.

By KIRK JOHNSON
New York Times
MISSOULA, Mont. – A chastened team of prosecutors stood here on Monday before a clearly angry federal judge in the criminal trial over asbestos contamination in the small town of Libby, Mont., and in soft voices, trying to salvage their threatened case, said they were sorry.

“The truth of the matter is that we just dropped the ball,” said Tim Racicot, an assistant United States attorney, standing before Judge Donald W. Molloy at a hearing in Federal District Court in the trial of W. R. Grace, the big chemical products company, and five of its executives, who are charged with multiple felonies in connection with their operation of a vermiculite mine in Libby.

Lawyers for Grace asked last week for the charges to be thrown out after two months of testimony. They accused prosecutors of repeatedly violating court orders to turn over evidence favorable to the defense and of putting on the stand a star witness whose credibility, they said, has since been shattered by information about his character, motivation and relationship with the prosecutors that the jury never heard about.


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