The New York legal system is at a strange dissonance. Former New York State Assembly Sheldon Silver’s case was overturned this morning by the Second Circuit Appeals Court due to reference of a previous trial the Supreme Court ruled. Mr. Silver was charged with obtaining $4 million in bribes from a handful of his donors in exchange for political capital, but the case was overturned due to former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s case in 2016 that reshaped the definition of public corruption. The domino effect of this overturned trial has been immense, as elected officials and advocates around New York State have spoken out within just hours of the announcement.
In the aftermath of last years conviction of Mr. Silver along with former Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam, the campaign trail of New York State senator races like Todd Kaminsky, sought to fight anti-corruption in our government. Along those lines, Susan Lemer who is the Common Cause/New York Executive Director was upset that within the Legislature has declined to take up any additional anti-corruption bills. Preet Bharara who prosecuted Sheldon’s case in 2016 tweeted that there definitely a solid case against him, and is convinced that he will be retried. Joon Kim replaced Bharara after he was fired by President Trump. Kim ensured that they were going to retry him, knowing what they know now was just a hurdle.
Most New Yorkers believe that Mr. Sheldon deserved to be convicted. If more anti-corruption measures were taken up by the legislature, it could prevent these cases from being handled in federal court and the people of New York’s pursuit of justice was in fact sidelined. Now that these public leaders are aware of the results of avoiding anti-corruption legislation, what would it look like if it were introduced or even enacted?