NEW YORK — Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s lawyers say he should not face retrial in his corruption case — at least until the U.S. Supreme Court reviews it. A prosecutor called the move a “delay tactic.”
The lawyers said in a Thursday appeals court filing that the Democrat’s case “is an excellent vehicle” for the high court to provide further guidance to lower courts about public corruption. A recent Supreme Court ruling in which the court reversed the conviction of Virginia Republican ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell cleared the way for Silver’s conviction to be overturned earlier this month.
Silver’s lawyers asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan to let them immediately appeal its finding that there was sufficient evidence of public corruption for a jury to convict Silver. The Supreme Court declines to hear most cases sent its way.
Silver, 73, was convicted in 2015 in a $5 million scheme and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
In a filing late Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tatiana Martins called the defense effort “little more than a delay tactic.”
“Silver’s retrial is inevitable, regardless of the outcome of any one of his claims in the Supreme Court,” she said. “There is no good cause for delay.”
Martins added: “Moreover, Silver’s apparent desire for further delay surely is motivated by his recognition that, as time passes, necessary witnesses and other evidence may be lost.”
The prosecutor noted that one of the central witnesses in Silver’s trial is over 80 years old, and she said Silver should not be allowed to use the remote chance that the Supreme Court would take up the case to gain a strategic advantage.
Silver’s lawyers still say there’s not enough evidence and that there are so many conflicts in the legal history surrounding charges against Silver that the high court must resolve them.
“Moreover, a retrial at this stage would burden the jury and the district court with evidence and legal argument on matters that could well be rendered entirely irrelevant if the Supreme Court grants review,” the lawyers wrote.
Silver was convicted of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering.
His lawyers were optimistic the Supreme Court would at least take up issues surrounding the money laundering charge after it cited conflicting rulings from federal appeals courts. The lawyers wrote that there was a “very real probability that the Supreme Court may grant review to resolve that conflict in this case.”