Lawyers for former Gov. Bob McDonnell and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are asking the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for three more weeks so that the U.S. Justice Department can further consider its next steps.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed McDonnell’s 11 corruption convictions, sending the case back to the appeals court to see if there was sufficient evidence for a possible retrial.
The appeals court granted a joint motion from the defense and prosecution to hold off on taking any action in the case for 30 days while the two sides talked.
That period was to expire on Monday, when they were to file a status report or a briefing schedule.
On Friday, a joint status report was sent to the court stating: “The two parties have been conferring, and that process has progressed but has not been completed within the Department of Justice. The parties jointly request that the case be held in abeyance for an additional three weeks, until Sept. 19, 2016.”
“The parties will not make any further requests to hold in abeyance the issuing of a briefing schedule,” concludes the motion.
Carl Tobias, a professor at the university of Richmond School of Law and an expert on the Richmond-based appeals court, said: “I expect the court will grant the extension, especially because the parties promise not to seek any more time.”
“It is very difficult to be certain exactly what is happening. Both sides could be discussing how to proceed with a briefing schedule, so the 4th Circuit can implement the (Supreme Court’s) instructions about a possible retrial,” said Tobias.
They could also be discussing a possible settlement, he said. Tobias said the extra time may be needed because of the complexity of the questions involved or because the U.S. Attorney’s Office needs to discuss things further with the Department of Justice.
The appeals court also earlier agreed to hold off taking any action in the case of former first lady Maureen McDonnell’s corruption convictions.
In vacating Bob McDonnell’s convictions, the Supreme Court ruled that the jury had been given a definition of “official act” that was too broad. The appeals court must decide whether a conviction is possible using the same evidence under the new definition.