A federal judge on Wednesday denied a motion by lawyers for Bob McDonnell to delay for a week the former Virginia governor’s arraignment on federal corruption charges because a key member of the defense team is out of the country and cannot attend Friday’s scheduled court appearance.
In a motion filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Mr. McDonnell’s lawyers sought the one-week delay of the hearing, until Jan. 31, because attorney Henry Asbill of Jones Day is out of the country “at a location with no airport, from which it would be extremely difficult and expensive for him to return.”
But U.S. District Judge David J. Novak denied the request after a conference call, saying in an order that the McDonnells withdrew the request to have the arraignment postponed when they were informed the initial appearance would go forward as scheduled on Friday at 10 a.m.
Mr. McDonnell’s lawyers had said Mr. Asbill planned the trip six months ago for his wife’s birthday and that traveling back to the United States would be “unusually difficult,” requiring “three airplane flights and a boat ride.”
“Because Mr. Asbill is a critical part of Mr. McDonnell’s defense team, it is vital to the Defendant receiving a full and fair defense that Mr. Asbill be present at all hearings, including the arraignment and initial appearance,” the motion states, adding that neither prosecutors not Mr. McDonnell’s wife, Maureen, objected to the delay.
Mr. McDonnell and his wife were indicted Tuesday on charges stemming from their relationship with a wealthy Virginia businessman. Prosecutors say former health supplement company executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. plied the McDonnells with gifts and loans and, in return, received access in order to peddle his products.
The McDonnells each face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted.