The Association of U S West Retirees



Heavy hitter landed for Nacchio case
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, August 14, 2008

A veteran Supreme Court attorney will represent the government in the full appellate court case against former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio in September.

"We wanted the best and got him," U.S. Attorney for Colorado Troy Eid said of Edwin Kneedler, principal deputy solicitor general for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Kneedler argued his 100th case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court this year, Eid said, "one of just eight people in history to do so."

Federal prosecutors secured a key victory last month when the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hear the government's appeal in the Nacchio case.  Prosecutors are challenging a 2-1 appellate panel ruling earlier this year to throw out Nacchio's insider-trading conviction and order a new trial.

The panel decided a defense witness was improperly excluded from offering expert evidence at Nacchio's federal trial last year.  The full appellate court, which agrees to only a handful of requests a year, will take up the issue on Sept. 25 and consider whether to uphold the conviction.

Kneedler, 62, has won cases in front of the Supreme Court involving natural resources, Native American law and racial gerrymandering.  He is expected to go up against Nacchio's appellate attorney, Maureen Mahoney, who has a stellar appellate record herself.  Mahoney was out of the office Wednesday and couldn't be reached for comment.

Stephan Oestreicher, a 32-year-old federal prosecutor, argued the government's case in front of the appellate panel this year.

Denver criminal defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt said it makes sense Eid would seek someone with more experience if that will better present the government's case.

A federal jury found Nacchio guilty in April 2007 of 19 counts of insider trading.  He was sentenced to six years in prison, but is free on $2 million bail pending his appeal.