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WASHINGTON - A federal judge dismissed the corruption conviction of former Sen. Ted Stevens on Tuesday and took the rare and serious step of opening a criminal investigation into prosecutors who mishandled the case.
"In nearly 25 years on the bench, I've never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I've seen in this case," U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said.
Sullivan appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Justice Department lawyers who repeatedly mishandled witnesses and withheld evidence from defense attorneys during the monthlong trial that ended with Stevens' conviction in October.
He said the matter was too serious to be left to an internal investigation by the department, which he said has dragged its feet looking into the misconduct