Friday, 24 November, 2017

Sheldon Silver's Corruption Conviction Has Been Overturned

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits the Manhattan U.S. District Courthouse in New York City U.S Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits the Manhattan U.S. District Courthouse in New York City U.S. Thomson Reuters
Tracy Craig | 14 July, 2017, 00:45

The appeals court, while acknowledging the "distaste" of Silver's actions, said the jury was improperly instructed on what constituted official acts of the one-time most powerful Democrat in state politics.

A spokesman for Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan declined immediate comment.

New York University Law Professor James Jacobs said he understands the evidence to be "incredibly strong".

"I expect Sheldon Silver to be retried and re-convicted", Bharara said in a tweet.

"I have no doubt that when this case is retried, as the acting US attorney for the Southern District of NY has said it will be, that yet another jury of everyday New Yorkers will find that this is not only corrupt, but illegal". They have also appealed their convictions. And Silver, analysts said, might have similar trouble.

No matter how bad these facts may have appeared on paper, the Second Circuit ruled as "erroneous" the convictions that resulted from them.

Sheldon Silver
Sheldon Silver. AP

Another part of the McDonnell case that might come into play is the role of low-key favors in Silver's conviction. The McDonnell decision narrowed the definition of what official conduct can result in a corruption prosecution, according to the newspaper. While acts like a lawsuit or administrative decision still counted, Roberts said, arranging meetings and urging subordinates to consider something generally did not.

Former Speaker Silver is not the first legislative leader to see his corruption conviction overturned on appeal.

Additional details are available on the New York Times website. The question presented to us, however, is not how a jury would likely view the evidence presented by the Government. He said the reversal reinforces voters" cynicism: "They think, "Of course you can get away with it'". In one scheme, for example, prosecutors accused Silver of pulling strings to award state money to a mesothelioma researcher at Columbia, who would then route mesothelioma victims to his own law firm, netting him millions in referral bonuses.

Dick Dadey of Citizens Union said the Silver reversal reinforces the need for voters to approve a constitutional convention (a referendum that is on the statewide ballot this fall) to create fairer elections and tougher anti-corruption laws.

The government even admitted during its appeal argument that the jury instructions were "partially wrong", in light of McDonnell, "but argued that the evidence was more than sufficient to sustain his conviction".

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