A federal appeals court has put on hold former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell’s appeal of corruption convictions to give prosecutors and her attorneys more time to analyze the Supreme Court decision that overturned her husband’s conviction.
Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s bribery conviction was overturned in June, with the Supreme Court ruling that while his acceptance of more than $170,000 worth of gifts and loans may have been “distasteful,” it didn’t violate federal law.
The justices’ unanimous decision sent his case back to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which must decide whether a jury could have been able to convict Mr. McDonnell if they were given the correct legal definition for an “official action.”
The couple was tried together and Mrs. McDonnell was convicted of nine similar charges. Her case has remained on hold before the appeals court as the Supreme Court considered her husband’s case.
The order filed Friday in Mrs. McDonnell’s case will give prosecutors and defense attorneys until August 29 to file either a proposed briefing schedule addressing remaining issues in the case or a resolution of the case. The court previously granted similar conditions for Mr. McDonnell’s case.
In a motion filed this week in court seeking to hold Mrs. McDonnell’s appeal in abeyance, her attorneys stated that her convictions should be vacated like the convictions against her husband.
Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor and George Washington University law professor who has followed the case, said the resolution of Mr. McDonnell’s case will likely dictate what happens to Mrs. McDonnell.
“All the issues in her appeal are the same, so what happens in his case is going drive what happens in hers,” Mr. Eliason said. “The reality is everyone is going wait and see what happens in Bob’s case. If they drop his, the are almost certainly going to drop hers.”