Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell on Monday asked one last time that a federal appeals court keep him out of jail while he pursues his case with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that even though he has lost throughout the legal process thus far, the nation’s highest court has yet to weigh in.
In a 13-page filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, McDonnell’s attorneys argued that the decision in his public corruption case conflicted with decisions in other circuits and that the Supreme Court is likely to want to resolve that disparity.
The attorneys also seemed to take umbrage at prosecutors’ contention that McDonnell does not deserve bail because his arguments have been rejected multiple times in lower courts, writing that “none of those briefs went to the Supreme Court,” which might be more sympathetic to the former governor.
“He is advancing legitimate legal arguments that have a reasonable chance of getting the Supreme Court’s attention,” McDonnell’s attorneys wrote.
McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, were convicted in September of public corruption for lending the prestige of the governor’s office to Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in exchange for $177,000 in loans, vacations and luxury goods. He was sentenced to two years in prison, she to a year and a day, and both were allowed to remain out with their appeals pending.
A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit court last month rejected Robert McDonnell’s appeal — based largely on the argument that he neither performed nor agreed to perform any “official acts” for Williams — and the entire court declined to take up the matter. Maureen McDonnell’s appeal is proceeding separately, with oral arguments scheduled for October.
If the 4th Circuit turns him down, McDonnell (R) can still ask the Supreme Court itself to allow him to keep his freedom while he tries to persuade the justices to hear his case. The former governor signaled Monday that he will take that step, asking the 4th Circuit, at the very least, to delay putting the formal, final stamp on his case for seven days so he can ask the Supreme Court to delay the date he must report to prison.
Some experts have said McDonnell is unlikely to persuade the Supreme Court to take up his case, and it is possible he could be forced to report to prison in a few months. If his request to stay out of prison is rejected by both the 4th Circuit and the Supreme Court, a lower court judge would likely set a date by which he should report and federal officials would then pick a facility appropriate for him, experts have said.