UPDATE: Lawyers for former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell filed a notice of appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Notice is hereby given that Defendant Robert F. McDonnell in the above named case hereby appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from the final judgment entered in this action on the 13th day of January, 2015.
This is a developing story.
RICHMOND, Va. — U. S. District Judge James Spencer has denied a motion made by former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s lawyers that would have kept McDonnell out of prison pending his appeal. McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison following his conviction on fraud charges.
Mr. McDonnell presents three issues that he contends are “substantial questions” important enough to warrant reversal or new trial: (1) whether the five actions the Government alleged in its Indictment and argued to the jury qualify as “official acts” under federal law; (2) whether this Court conducted sufficient voir dire on pretrial publicity; and (3) whether this Court erred by declining to follow the procedures outlined in United States v. Resko, 3 F. 3d 684, 688 (3d Cir. 1993),given evidence of allegedpremature jury deliberations. (Mem. in Supp. of Mot. at 2, 23.) However, as the Court has fully explained in its memorandum opinions denying Mr. McDonnell’s Motion for NewTrial and RenewedMotion for Judgment of Acquittal (see ECF Nos. 567, 571) the above-mentioned issues do not present a “close” call justifying bail pending appeal.
With respect to the first issue, this Court previously found that “[t]he Government provided substantial evidence for the jury to conclude that McDonnell knew what [Jonnie] Williams was seeking, specifically, research studies for Star Scientific’s Anatabloc product.” (Mem. Op. at 5, Dec. 1, 2014, ECF No. 567.) The Court additionally found that Mr. McDonnell attempted to use his gubernatorial office to influence governmental decisions in favor of Star Scientific. (Mem. Op. at 7, Dec. 1, 2014, ECF No. 571.) The Court concluded that “[substantial evidence supports the jury’s finding of a quid and fairly specific, related quo.” (Id. at 8.) Mr. McDonnell assuredly did more than provide mere access to Williams-he performed “official acts” as that term is defined under federal bribery laws. Therefore, for the foregoing reasons, and for all the reasons stated in this Court’s prior memorandum opinions, this is not a “close question” that justifies release pending appeal.
As to the second issue, the voir dire process is essentially committed to the sound discretion of the district court “because the determination of impartiality, in which demeanor plays such an important part, is particularly within the province of the trial judge.” United States v. Lancaster, 96 F.3d 734, 738 (4th Cir. 1996) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). As explained in its memorandum opinion denying Mr. McDonnell’s Motion for New Trial, this Court found that the procedures employed in managing voir dire and the effects of any pretrial publicity were adequate and Mr. McDonnell’s claims were “unfounded.” (Mem. Op. at 15, Dec. 1, 2014, ECFNo. 567.) It is not a “close call”whether this Court properly acted within its discretion as to this issue.
Likewise, with regards to alleged premature jury deliberations, “the Court was entitled to exercise its discretion and assess the situation presented.” (Id. at 17.) The Court found that Louis DeNitto’s statements to attorney Jim Watson “did not provide sufficient indicia of premature deliberations.” (Id.) Although Mr. McDonnell continues to relyon Resko, 3 F. 3d 684 to support his argument, for the reasons stated in this Court’s memorandum opinion denying his Motion for New Trial (see ECF No. 567 at 18-19), Mr. McDonnell’s argument remains unpersuasive. Thus, this too does not constitute a “substantial question.”
For the foregoing reasons, the Motion is hereby DENIED.
McDonnell is scheduled to report to prison by February 9.