The appeal of former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell will be considered on the same schedule as her husband’s case this month following an order Friday from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Lawyers for Maureen McDonnell had argued that her convictions on multiple counts of public corruption should be vacated because the errors found in her husband’s case should apply to hers. They asked that her case be put on hold until Aug. 29.
The appeals court granted the request. So by Aug. 29, lawyers on each side will either agree to a resolution ending each case or provide a briefing schedule for a new prosecution.
A federal jury convicted Maureen McDonnell and her husband, former Gov. Bob McDonnell, in 2014 on multiple counts of public corruption in a gifts scandal that involved their accepting more than $170,000 in loans and luxury items from a businessman who wanted help from the governor in securing state research on a dietary supplement.
The order Friday was not unexpected.
“Her case was held in abeyance at the 4th Circuit over a year ago,” says Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who follows the case. “So the 4th Circuit never addressed her appeal while his went forward to the Supreme Court, and they did reverse his conviction. So now her lawyers are working with the Justice Department toward this Aug. 29 deadline as [Bob] McDonnell’s lawyers are.”
Bob McDonnell maintained that, although he made mistakes in accepting the gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, he didn’t break the law.
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned his convictions June 27, but perhaps left the door open for a modified prosecution. The court found that the definition of an official act given to the jury was incorrect and meant McDonnell may have been convicted for conduct that was legal.