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Former Gov. Bob McDonnell can remain free during appeal, court rules

Posted at 2:34 PM, Jan 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-26 18:41:58-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The  United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has ruled that former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell will not go to jail during the appeal of his corruption convictions.

Earlier in January  U. S. District Judge James Spencer denied the motion made by McDonnell’s lawyers to remain free during the appeal process.

McDonnell was originally scheduled to report to prison by February 9. He was sentenced to a two-year prison sentence.

Upon consideration of the submissions relative to appellant's motion for release pending appeal pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3143(b), the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that appellant is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community if released. The court further finds thatthe appeal is not for the purpose of delay and raises a substantial question of law or fact that, “if decided in favor of the accused” is “important enough” to warrant reversal or a new trial.  United States v. Steinhorn, 927 F.2d 195, 196 (4th Cir. 1991) (per curiam).

McDonnell released the following statement Monday afternoon:

“I am grateful for today's ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit allowing me to remain free on bond pending my appeal.  I plan to spend time with my new granddaughter who was born this month, attend my sons' graduation ceremonies, and embrace family time with my daughters.  I want to thank my family, friends and legal team for their tireless support and unwavering belief in my innocence.  At this time our family requests privacy.”

According to online court documents, McDonnell's appeal will be heard on an expedited schedule:

  • Opening Brief and Joint Appendix: Due March 2, 2015
  • Response Brief: Due March 26, 2015
  • Reply Brief, if any: Due April 8, 2015
  • Oral Argument will be held on May 12, 2015, in Richmond, Virginia, and is not subject to continuance.

The former governor of Virginia can no longer practice law in the state where he was once elected to lead. The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board suspended Bob McDonnell’s legal license effective January 29. The board based its decision on McDonnell’s recent conviction on 11 felony counts related to public corruption while he was governor.

McDonnell could appear before the board to argue against the suspension during a February 20 hearing.

The board noted McDonnell’s legal license had been administratively suspended for non-payment of Virginia State Bar dues since October 2014.

This is a developing story.