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October 30, 2008

Senator Ted Stevens not (yet) disenfranchised

This article in the Anchorage Daily News, headlined "Stevens keeps right to vote until sentencing," keeps up with the latest legal news surrounding Senator Ted Stevens:

Sen. Ted Stevens gets to vote in next Tuesday's election despite being found guilty of seven federal felonies because his conviction won't be final until he's sentenced, the state Department of Law decided late Wednesday.

Alaska law bars felons convicted of crimes involving "moral turpitude" from voting for the duration of their sentence, including any probation period. Stevens' failure to report gifts is a Class D felony under federal law and constitutes such a crime because it involves willful fraud, said an opinion by Michael Barnhill, a senior assistant attorney general with the state.

But when is a person deemed convicted? Barnhill conceded in his opinion there are two ways to read the law, with a popular interpretation being that the jury's verdict is enough.  But most legal precedents lean toward waiting until the judge in the case has entered his formal judgment and sentence, Barnhill said....

Given the touchy nature of the voting question, it took the state legal department more than two days to sort through the precedents and draw up its four-page opinion for Division of Elections director Gail Fenumiai.  Questions about Stevens' right to vote began coming to the division within hours of his conviction Monday.

The state's conclusion jibes with the opinion of several other lawyers, including federal public defender Rich Curtner in Anchorage. But Curtner added that the question of exactly when a felon loses voting rights had never come up in any of his federal cases.  "For most of my clients, that's the least of their worries," he said.

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October 30, 2008 at 09:02 AM | Permalink

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Comments

defense attorney, Anchorage, Alaska.

under Alaska law, in state court, if my client changes his plea in a felony case, but not yet sentenced, he or she is considered a felon for "felon in possession" as to weapons. Also, if a defendant changes plea or is found "guilty", they lose release on bail for A-felonies and unclassified felonies.

Uncle Ted is a convicted by a jury of the felony. it seems it is a odd position to allow him to vote.

Posted by: randall | Oct 31, 2008 12:51:11 PM

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