Federal prosecutors on Tuesday pushed back against former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell’s request to put her appeal on hold, arguing the public has “significant interest in the prompt resolution” of the case.
In just a four-page filing, prosecutors urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to reject Maureen McDonnell’s call to put her case in abeyance until the Supreme Court can weigh in on her husband’s. They argued both cases had already been briefed extensively, and the appeals court should not put off addressing the issues she raised separate from her husband.
Both Maureen McDonnell and her husband, former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell, were convicted last year of 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. Though they were tried together, they appealed separately, with the former governor’s case proceeding on a slightly faster track than that of his wife.
Robert McDonnell’s lawyers are currently preparing a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up his case, having already been rebuffed at each lower level. He has been allowed to remain out on bond during that process.
Maureen McDonnell, by contrast, is still presenting her case to the federal appeals court, though its focus seems to have been narrowed to issues she is raising separately from her Robert McDonnell. Maureen McDonnell has argued that while the appeals court rejected Robert McDonnell’s appeal, they could still exonerate her, citing as a reason her unique status as a non-public official.
Maureen McDonnell’s attorneys are scheduled to deliver oral arguments to the appeals court on Oct. 29, though if her case is put on hold, those arguments would likely be put off for months. Her husband is not required to file his petition with the Supreme Court until Nov. 9 and prosecutors have many weeks after that to respond.