At End of Sheldon Silver’s Corruption Trial, the ‘Law Guys’ Take Over

23 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Albany’s protection racket could be straight out of the Mafia.

A federal jury considering whether to convict Sheldon Silver, one of New York’s most powerful politicians for two decades, is scheduled to hear closing arguments in his public corruption trial on Monday. With the federal corruption case against Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, the chamber’s former speaker, set to go the jury this week, some observers have wondered why the once powerful pol didn’t seek a bench trial where his fate would be determined by a judge. “You can make arguments to a jury that they might find more credible than a judge who goes by the book and is probably less willing to accept what I would call creative arguments in a case like this,” Simon said. “All you need is one juror to find reasonable doubt and you get a hung jury. U.S. prosecutors in New York have accused Silver of using his position as the speaker of the state assembly to collect millions of dollars in illegal bribes and kickbacks in exchange for official acts. But Silver’s defense lawyers have argued that the government has improperly attempted to criminalize what is, in essence, business as usual in the state capital of Albany. Caproni tells jurors to interpret the evidence as it relates to the law could sway deliberations — a fact certainly not lost on the government or the defense.

The two trials represent the highest-profile cases in a string of prosecutions and ethics scandals that have ensnared dozens of New York lawmakers in recent years. Silver, 71, and Skelos, 67, stepped down from their leadership posts after their arrests but have continued to work as legislators, representing lower Manhattan and Long Island, respectively. The trials show that private businesses, including a large real-estate firm, two law firms, a financial consultant, a cancer doctor and an environmental firm, played roles in the alleged scams of Silver and Skelos.

Everyone thinks everyone in government stinks,” said Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat and former corruption prosecutor. “We are living the worst-case scenario.” FILE – In this Nov. 17, 2015 file photo, New York Sen. Under the state’s political system, the assembly speaker and the senate majority leader, together with the governor, comprise the so-called “three men in a room” who exercise virtually unfettered control over the legislative and budget process in Albany. The law guys must master the legal aspects of the case, and be steeped in precedents and in issues that might become the focus of an appeal or need to be responded to in court at a moment’s notice. He is also charged with accepting $700,000 in kickbacks for steering real estate developers to another law firm, with the understanding that he would provide needed support for the developers on key legislation.

Silver’s lawyers, who declined to call any witnesses, have argued the government failed to prove the existence of explicit “quid pro quo” agreements during the three-week trial. To deny the defense’s motion, Judge Caproni must conclude that a reasonable jury could find the evidence sufficient beyond a reasonable doubt to support the counts in the indictment. My vote isn’t going to make a difference,” said Kolb, who heads the Assembly’s Republicans. “People are worried about jobs, about putting dinner on the table.” In all, more than 30 state lawmakers have left office facing criminal charges or allegations of ethical misconduct since 2000. The cases were just a few of the ones that prompted the Center for Public Integrity to give New York a D-minus in a recent ranking of states and corruption. “Whether they (Skelos and Silver) are acquitted or convicted it is Albany that is on trial,” said Bruce Roter, a music professor at Albany’s College of Saint Rose and the man behind a proposal to build a Museum of Political Corruption to catalog Albany’s longstanding problem with ethics. “And it is Albany that will have to pay the price.” Cuomo has also come under scrutiny of U.S. He resented it, but added, “At the same time, we are conducting all of this other state business.” Another developer, Steven Witkoff, testified in the Silver case that he was “incensed” when he learned that Silver was getting part of the fees from the law firm that Silver steered him to.

Asked recently whether it’s a problem that people getting state grants and contracts are contributing to his campaign fund, the Democratic governor noted that’s not new in Albany. Cuomo and top lawmakers point to some modest changes made earlier this year including a new requirement for lawmakers to disclose their outside income — with broad exceptions built in. And with the top two lawmakers allegedly on the take, it is no wonder that even rookies have been caught selling their offices to companies willing to pay for an edge. But if you see Obama’s policies as a big factor in the rise of Islamic State, you’re not willing to add to the already high risk of a terror attack in America.

The barbarism in Paris, the fact that one of the attackers carried a Syrian passport and the direct threats against the United States, are leading most voters to oppose Obama’s plan. Taub, who testified for the government under a nonprosecution agreement, was asked whether he had an explicit agreement to exchange referrals for grants, he responded, “I did not.” The defense has also cited Dr. His refusal to enforce routine border laws demolishes his credibility when he claims we can safely take in 10,000 Syrians, as does his silly refusal to call Islamic terrorism what it plainly is. Unless he stops insulting voters and starts listening, next year could be Strike 3 for his party. “It’s crucial that people go about their normal business, recognizing the NYPD is providing extraordinary protection,” he said after a threat against the city. “This is the finest police force in this nation.” Reader Ron Meador is losing faith in voters. “My concern is that Hillary is a lock to become the next president, no matter how many mistakes she makes and how many lies she tells,” he writes. “Does her record even matter?

The role of the “law guy” is like that of an assistant to a football coach who stands on the sideline, knows the rules better than anyone else and says, “Challenge the call.” The term law guy is an anachronism from a time when the legal profession was dominated by men; women now frequently serve in that role, said Deirdre von Dornum, attorney in charge of the federal public defender’s office in Brooklyn. “I love to be the ‘law guy,’ ” she said. Kry, 40, a Calgary-born graduate of Yale Law School, clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in 2003-4 for Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court.

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