Murkowski Receives Congressional Justice Award
Senator: America Believes in for Justice for All, Not Justice for Most or Some
WASHINGTON, D.C — Senator Lisa Murkowski was honored this week by the American Bar Association (ABA), receiving the Congressional Justice Award for her leadership and advocacy in the realm of civil liberties and law reform. The ABA specifically recognized Murkowski for her legislation, the Fairness in Disclosure of Evidence Act, which requires that prosecutors disclose exculpatory evidence to criminal defendants. The ABA group included Attorney Lynn Allingham of the Alaska Bar Association, who shared her personal and professional appreciation for Murkowski’s work, as well as ABA President Laurel Bellows.
Murkowski’s bipartisan bill would create a nationwide, universal standard for disclosure of exculpatory evidence to defendants in federal courtrooms nationwide. There are currently nearly 100 different standards in operation. It also stiffens the disciplinary measures available to judges when they are confronted with prosecutors and investigators that do not abide by the law.
“When Alaskans look at the statue of Justice, she is blindfolded to show objectivity and the scales she holds are level to show both sides getting an even chance,” Murkowski said. “That should not just be the ideal we aspire to, that should be the standard requirement for everyone who walks into a courtroom to abide by. When Americans talk about liberty and justice for all, we must remember that we are committed to justice for everyone – not more or less for some.”
While Senator Murkowski was inspired to craft the bill due to the injustices faced by Senator Ted Stevens during the 2008 investigation – where prosecutorial misconduct rose to the level of having the case and verdict dismissed from federal court in 2009 – her underlying concern is that if prosecutors don’t play by the rules in high-profile cases such as that, further abuses could be imperiling the legal proceedings facing average Americans.
“Justice is the search for the truth. Senator Murkowski’s bill would allow crucial evidence to see the light of day,” said Laurel Bellows, American Bar Association President.