Tag Archives: U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court expresses extreme skepticism over former Governor McDonnell’s convictions

Bob McDonnell 10Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell had his day in court Wednesday as his lawyer, Noel J. Francisco, presented McDonnell’s case before the highest court in the land.

Speaking before the Supreme Court justices, Francisco laid out the case that his client should not have been convicted because he did not “make a government decision or urge someone else to do so,” and added that the corruption laws were not meant to be “comprehensive codes of ethical conduct.”

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS Blog added, “At the center of McDonnell’s challenge is whether he performed any ‘official acts …'” and continued, “It was that single phrase, ‘official acts,’ that was the target of the most skeptical of the Justices on Wednesday. Justice Kennedy ridiculed it as reaching even a janitor who took a bottle of beer for doing some extra cleaning in an office. Justice Breyer said it was so open-ended that no member of Congress could ask any government official to look into the private matter of interest for a political donor. Chief Justice Roberts marveled at the ‘extraordinary’ fact that a bevy of former White House staff lawyers who had served several presidents submitted an amicus brief warning of the dreadful consequences for democracy if the McDonnell verdict stood.”

Afterward, feedback from news outlets was positive and hopeful that the conviction would be overturned.

Reuters wrote that the Justices expressed doubt and added, “During the one-hour argument, several justices signaled that McDonnell’s action in taking $177,000 in gifts and loans from a businessman seeking to promote a dietary supplement did not constitute a criminal act. Chief Justice John Roberts went further, suggesting the statutes under which McDonnell was convicted could be so broad as to be unconstitutionally vague.”

Headlines from other media outlets were equally positive.

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Will U.S. Supreme Court acquit former Governor Bob McDonnell?

Bob McDonnell

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Governor Bob McDonnell is going to Washington to seek justice. Specifically, he and his attorney are asking that he be cleared of the charges pursued by the federal government, noting that his conviction was … (see McDonnell formally asks Supreme Court to take up his case):

… the “first time in our history that a public official has been convicted of corruption despite never agreeing to put a thumb on the scales of any government decision.” They asserted, as they have throughout the case, that allowing McDonnell’s convictions to stand would make criminals out of virtually every politician and give prosecutors unchecked authority to decide which ones to target.

Meanwhile, Jonnie Williams still roams free, thanks to blanket immunity from the federal government in their witch hunt chasing after McDonnell who at that time was one of the most popular governors in the nation and extremely popular in Virginia, and whose name had been bantered about as a possible candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Shaun Kenney  has thoughts on this at Bearing Drift (see RTD: McDonnell formally asks SCOTUS to hear appeal):

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SCOTUS keeps McDonnell free during appeal as more question conviction

Bob McDonnellBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Good news was handed down Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Virginia’s former Governor Bob McDonnell would remain free as they decide whether to take up his case (see U.S. Supreme Court lets McDonnell stay free for now by Frank Green).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported:

In a one-paragraph order, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was ordered to hold off making its July 10 ruling upholding McDonnell’s 11 corruption convictions final, permitting McDonnell to remain on bond.

Should the justices not take the case, the stay ordered this afternoon will end automatically. If the court takes the case the stay will continue, the court ordered.

McDonnell’s lawyers made the request to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who referred the matter to the full court. McDonnell needed a majority vote for the stay – it is unclear if the full court voted – but only needs four votes for the court to agree to take up his appeal.

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