Federal appeals court overturns former New York senator’s corruption conviction

Federal appeals court overturns former New York senator’s corruption conviction

[JURIST] The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] vacated [order, PDF] the 2015 corruption conviction [NYT report] of former New York state Senator Dean Skelos [Ballotpedia profile] and his son Adam Skelos on Tuesday.

Dean Skelos, who was once considered one of the most power legislators in his state, was accused of soliciting payments to his son from numerous New York corporations in return for political favors over a five-year period.

In reaching its decision, the court relied upon the decision of the US Supreme Court [official website] in McDonnell v. United States [opinion], in which the court held [JURIST report] that acts such as communicating with fellow politicians and setting up meetings with other parties, political or not, did not qualify as “official acts” for the purposes of federal corruption and bribery laws. In light of this precedent, the court concluded that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that “acts customarily performed by a public official with a particular position” fall under the relevant laws.

The matter will now be remanded and a subsequent retrial of both Skelos and his son is expected.