Supreme Court won't take case of ex-NY assembly speaker
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for a re-trial of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The high court declined to take up the case. That lets a re-trial tentatively set for April to proceed.
The 73-year-old Democrat was sentenced to 12 years in prison after his conviction on public corruption charges in late 2015. But the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that conviction last year, returning the case to the trial court.
The appeals court said the trial judge would need to instruct jurors on the law differently to conform with a 2016 Supreme Court decision reversing the public corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Republican. The 2nd Circuit also said there was sufficient evidence for a retrial.
In the McDonnell case, 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 some public corruption cases. Silver’s supporters had hoped that the Supreme Court might welcome the chance to look directly at his case.
Sheldon’s lawyers, Steven Molo and Joel Cohen, said in a statement that they were disappointed that the Supreme Court did not consider the case.
“We intend to move forward and obtain a great result for our client,” they said.
Prosecutors declined comment on Tuesday.
In court papers, the government had opposed Silver’s request for a Supreme Court review, noting that it forced a retrial delay in a case in which one of the key government witnesses is over 80 years old.
Silver was first elected in 1976 and served as speaker for 21 years, becoming the classic Albany insider with the power to control bills and state spending singlehandedly.
Along with the leader of the Senate and the governor, Silver was one of the “three men in a room” who every year negotiated the state budget and important legislation behind closed doors.