Supreme Court takes no action yet on McDonnell appeal

By WAVY-TV 10 – 1/11/2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAVY) – On its Monday morning Order List, The Supreme Court of the United States has not listed the Government’s case against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

His appeal is not listed at all on what the High Court plans to do with the case, so the case remains on appeal until a definitive action is taken. The Court did not decide whether to rehear the case.

What does this mean?

Steve Emmert is a Virginia Beach Attorney, has legal expertise with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and publishes the Virginia Appellate News and Analysis. Emmert told 10 On Your Side, “First, it isn’t an indication one way or the other about the justices’ views of the petition.”

Emmert points out McDonnell’s appeal remains on review, he remains free on bond, but this means there’s more waiting for McDonnell to figure out his fate.

If the High Court refuses to hear the case then McDonnell will have to report to a federal prison to start serving his two-year term on federal corruption charges.

A Federal District Court jury found McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of trading political favors for gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman in September. McDonnell appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and that court upheld the lower court’s ruling.

McDonnell then appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court in December where the case is now.

Emmert says, “This means the case may be re-listed, and I think that’s probable. Re-listing is a sort of postponement of judicial action on a case. It says, in essence, ‘We want to take more time to consider this one.’ Some cases are re-listed several times, which produces an agonizing wait for litigants and reporters.”
We asked Emmert whether this helps or hurts the former Governor.

Emmert said, “It helps the Governor in one tiny way. Right now, as far as I know, there is no split in the federal circuits over the interpretation of the law. I have no idea if there’s a case from elsewhere percolating through the federal system, but if there is one, and if a federal circuit court elsewhere interprets the statute in a way that’s inconsistent with the Fourth’s decision last year, then that would be an immense shot in the arm for the Governor’s chances of getting certiorari, which is the Court agreeing to hear a case.”

Emmert says that happens in about 2 percent of all cases. He did not know of any other recent prosecutions under this statute, and if there were one, he’d think we would have heard about it.