A Legal Summary of Justice Roberts’ Written Opinion

Friends,

Thank you for the continued support throughout this long battle. We could not have done it without you. However, we need your support now more than ever as we await the prosecutor’s decision to retry the case. Your continued support means the world to the McDonnell Family. Please take a moment to read this legal analysis from Ellen Podgor from the LPB Network on the Governor’s Vacated Conviction:

Ellen Podgor, LPB Network (27 June 2016) – It was the last decision issued by the US Supreme Court this term, and an important one for many. The Supreme Court vacated and remanded former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell’s conviction. It was a unanimous decision – a strong statement with which to end the Court’s term. The key issue was what constitutes an “official act” to meet the bribery statute. The issue arose, as so many issues do, from the district court’s giving of a jury instruction –

Chief Justice Roberts issued the 28 page decision vacating and remanding the lower court’s decision
  • Setting up a meeting, hosting an event, or contacting officials – without more – is not an “official act”.
  • The Court uses a straightforward statutory definition analysis to define what constitutes an “official act”.
  • The precedent offered in Sun Diamond supports the Governor’s arguments that “hosting an event, meeting with other officials, or speaking with interested parties is not, standing alone, a ‘decision or action’ within the meaning of section 201(a)(3), even if the event, meeting, or speech is related to a pending question or matter.”
  • “Something more is required: section 201(a)(3) specifies that the public official must make a decision or take an action on that question or matter or agree to do so.”
  • “An ‘official act’ is a decision or action on a ‘question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy.”
  • The government’s “expansive interpretation” of what is an “official act” raises significant constitutional concerns.
  • “We cannot construe a criminal statute on the assumption that the Government will “use it responsibly.”
  • The Court notes three deficiencies in the district court’s instructions from this case.
  • The Court sends it back to the district court to determine if there is sufficient evidence to meet the Supreme Court’s definition of “official act” and if the district court finds that there is – a new trial should be held using this standard.

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God Bless,

 

The Bob McDonnell Restoration Fund Board