Friday, June 05, 2009

KTUU Channel 2 Poll Shows 75 Percent Of Respondents Don't Want Pete Kott And Vic Kohring Released Pending Judicial Review Of Their Corruption Cases

By now, many readers are undoubtedly aware that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, concerned that the prosecutorial misconduct which undermined the Ted Stevens case may have spread to other similar cases, has recommended that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals send the cases of former State Reps Pete Kott and Vic Kohring back to the original trial judges for review to determine if prosecutors improperly handled evidence in their trials as well. In addition, Holder has recommended that in the interim, Kott and Kohring be released from prison while the review takes place. Note that the Feds are NOT dropping the charges against Kott and Kohring at this time. Also note that this decision will not affect those who pleaded guilty, like John Cowdery and Jim Clark; by taking a plea deal, they locked themselves in. Alaska media stories which include public comments as reaction include the following:

-- "Attorney General asks for Kott, Kohring to be released", KTUU Channel 2 with video, June 4th 2009
-- "AG Holder wants Kott/Kohring released from prison", KTVA Channel 11, June 4th 2009
-- "Reactions to AG Holder's Request to Release Kohring and Kott", KTVA Channel 11, June 4th 2009 (includes reaction by Alaska lawmakers and Gov. Sarah Palin)
-- "Convicted legislators may be released", Anchorage Daily News, first published June 4th 2009. This story also includes some other links:
---- Eric Holder's official statement
---- Government's motion for Pete Kott
---- Government's motion for Vic Kohring
-- "Attorney General wants Kott, Kohring released", Mat-Su Frontiersman, June 4th 2009

KTUU Channel 2 was quick to solicit public opinion about Holder's decision. So on June 4th, 2009, they launched one of their frequent "unscientific" polls to take the public pulse. The informal margin of error of their "unscientific" polls has been previously determined to be as high as 15 percent, and the polling technology does not restrict participation to Alaskans only. Of the 998 people who responded to the question "Should former state Reps. Pete Kott and Vic Kohring be released from prison?", 75 percent said No.

Even if you apply a 15 percent margin of error, a strong majority still wants to see these two remain locked up. There may be two reasons for the negative response. First, the wording of the poll question; it makes it appear as if these two are to be unconditionally released a la Ted Stevens. This is not the case; it is an interim release only pending judicial review. Many respondents probably failed to understand the distinction.

But second, the poll fails to discriminate between Pete Kott and Vic Kohring. I believe more people want to see Kott punished than Kohring. I thought about that distinction myself, but I ended up voting Yes, primarily for the sake of Kohring. And this is reflected in the disparate punishment; while Kott was sentenced to 72 months, Kohring was only sentenced to 42 months. Although both Kott and Kohring equally maintain their innocence, the two couldn't be more different. While Kott came across as a thoroughly corrupt, cynical, and venal individual completely bereft of any moral principle, Kohring seemed like a good-hearted individual who just happened to blunder his way into the situation. This doesn't mean that Kohring is absolutely innocent; the videotape remains damning. It simply means that Kohring is NOT inherently corrupt and venal. Back in May 2008, after his conviction, Vic Kohring courageously faced a battery of reporters, affirmed his innocence, and exposed Judge John Sedwick's bias.

The USA Vs. Vic Kohring blog brings out more important information. Specifically, the possibility of bias against Kohring by Judge John Sedwick exists. Fred James discloses that Judge Sedwick consistently denied Kohring's motions, refused to recuse himself over an issue discovered on the last day of the trial and did not permit the jury to hear important parts of the defense. Judge John Sedwick is also married to Deborah Sedwick, who walked into the courtroom on the last day of the trial. This is when Vic concluded that his worst enemy in Juneau was none other than the judge’s wife. The principal U.S. Government witness, Bill Allen, lives 40 feet from the judge. The second most prominent government witness, Rick Smith, attended school with Sedwick in his youth.

The timing of Kott and Kohring's releases are now up to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Lawyers for both Kott and Kohring think that could take anywhere from a few days to weeks. Kohring lawyer John Henry Browne feels an Alaskan hearing will happen in the next couple of months. But both lawyers are playing it close to the vest right now, waiting to see what the new information is, but if it is serious enough they say it could lead to new trials.

The first step would be for the actual trial judge to see if the evidence holder says prosecutors did not turn over could have helped the defense. In addition, Kohring lawyer John Henry Browne says he will try to keep Judge Sedwick from handling this case; removing Sedwick from the case is an absolute must.

Another Alaska blogger, Thomas Lamb, weighs in and is somewhat sympathetic towards Vic Kohring. He reports that Wayne Anthony Ross believes that if Kohring had different representation, he would have been cleared. But Lamb fails to account for the "damning" video to which I previously linked.

Prognosis: I don't foresee the convictions being thrown out at this point in time, but I can foresee Kott's sentenced being reduced, and Kohring being re-sentenced only to time already served. This would seen just; unlike Pete Kott, who still has a support structure, Kohring was dumped by his wife and exhausted his financial resources. It's time to free Vic Kohring.

No comments:

Post a Comment