McDonnell can remain free while Supreme Court decides on review

1 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bob McDonnell remains free while SCOTUS decides on review.

RICHMOND, Va. WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday granted former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell’s effort to stay out of prison while fighting his conviction on federal corruption charges. He’ll remain free while he files for a writ of certiorari, which is when a lower court is ordered to deliver its record in a case so that the higher court may review it. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted last September of doing favors for a wealthy businessman in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans. McDonnell has maintained his innocence and argued that he was unfairly charged for providing routine political courtesies that all politicians dole out.

The case derailed the career of the rising Republican star, who had been viewed as a possible running mate to presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. He also argued that the jury in his 2014 trial was not properly instructed. “This is an extraordinarily high-profile political prosecution, resting on an aggressive, unprecedented theory of liability, with far-reaching consequences for elected officials,” his high court petition said. “The Fourth Circuit’s decision will upend the political process, devastate fundamental First Amendment freedoms, and confer vast discretion on federal prosecutors.” Chief Justice John Roberts had given McDonnell a short reprieve in order to hear the federal government’s response to his request. It would be wrong, they said, if he were to later “have the critical legal premise for the conviction invalidated, or the fundamental unfairness of the trial confirmed.” But U.S. Verrilli told the court that the government could not find a single instance in which the justices had allowed someone to remain free after his conviction had been upheld by an appeals court. McDonnell’s application said his case presented two issues worth the court’s time: whether the conduct for which he was convicted was actually illegal and whether the lower court judge had made sure he was tried by an impartial jury.

McDonnell’s claim did not raise the broad questions of law that is the stuff of Supreme Court review, the government argued, but “instead presents a sound application of settled legal principles to the facts established at trial.” Without the Supreme Court’s order, McDonnell’s case would have been sent back to U.S. Federal officials would then have picked a facility appropriate for him, taking into account available bed space, his particular security risks and other factors.

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