Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Judge Won't Dismiss McDonnells' Charges, No Separate Trials

Bob and Maureen McDonnell will have their day in court together, even if they would rather not.

In three orders Tuesday, U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer denied motions by both defendants to dismiss many of the charges they face, to separate their trials, and to give them access to communication records between prosecutors and the grand jury.

His ruling is a setback for the defense ahead of a jury trial set for July on public corruption charges. The McDonnells were indicted in January.

While the defendants "take issue with the Indictment primarily on the ground that it fails to allege Robert McDonnell performed or promised to perform any 'official act' within the meaning of the federal bribery statutes," Spencer in one order concludes it is for a jury to decide whether the McDonnells' conduct "constituted 'the corruption of official positions through misuse of influence in governmental decision-making.' "

The judge also denied a request for disclosure of grand jury information that the defense thought might help improve its fortunes by weakening the foundations of the government's case.

Spencer released his orders one day after federal prosecutors and attorneys for the McDonnells argued over motions to dismiss many of the charges against them. The defense claimed Bob McDonnell's conduct wasn't bribery by government standards because the former governor never took official action to aid a benefactor who lavished expensive gifts and loans on his family.


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