NEW YORK — A lawyer for former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is counting on the U.S. Supreme Court reviewing the case before the once-powerful politician endures a second trial on corruption charges.
Attorney Steven Molo notified the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Thursday that he’d like to ask the high court to review last week’s ruling, which wiped out the conviction but also provided the government with assurance that there was sufficient evidence to convict Silver if a jury is properly instructed on the law and decides to do so.
Meanwhile, the government said in a filing Thursday that it is prepared to proceed with the retrial rather than appeal the 2nd Circuit’s findings to the same three-judge panel or to the entire appeals court.
The 2nd Circuit tossed out the conviction, citing the legal rationale in a recent Supreme Court decision that reversed the public corruption conviction of Virginia Republican ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell.
In its ruling, the high court narrowed the definition of what constitutes an “official act” by a politician, making it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain convictions in cases in which it cannot be made clear to jurors exactly what a politician did in return for money or services received from someone or an entity hoping to improperly influence government.
Silver was sentenced last year to 12 years in prison after he was convicted of collecting $4 million in kickbacks from a cancer researcher and real estate developers in return for using his powerful post to help them. Prosecutors said he made another million dollars by investing the $4 million.
He has not had to report to prison while he awaited the outcome of his appeal.
Silver’s former state Senate counterpart, Republican ex-Majority Leader Dean Skelos, was found guilty, at a separate trial, of using his position to arrange payments and a job for his son. His appeal is pending.
After the 2nd Circuit ruled last week, the three-judge panel hearing the appeal in the Skelos case asked lawyers to submit additional legal arguments in light of the Silver decision. Oral arguments had already occurred in the Skelos appeal. The additional papers are due in August.