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Sheldon Silver's conviction overturned, but he'll be re-tried

Is former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, longtime state powerbroker (and supporter of Forest City) off the hook? Not yet, but things have gotten interesting. The Times reported 7/13/17, Sheldon Silver’s 2015 Corruption Conviction Is Overturned:
A federal appeals court on Thursday overturned the 2015 corruption conviction of Sheldon Silver, once the powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, saying the judge’s jury instructions were in error in light of a United States Supreme Court decision that has since narrowed the legal definition of corruption.
Mr. Silver was convicted on charges that he had obtained nearly $4 million in illicit payments in return for taking a series of official actions that benefited others. But in the jury instructions, the judge’s explanation of an official action was too broad, the appeals court found, because it swept in some conduct that the Supreme Court’s decision would now exclude.
Federal prosecutors quickly vowed to retry the case, noting that the appeals court said that the evidence against Mr. Silver was legally sufficient to support a conviction.
Silver sent state funds to a doctor who sent patients to a law firm that paid Silver for referrals, and backed legislation that favored developers who sent business to another law firm that shared fees with him.

Former State Senate majority leader Dean Skelos is also appealing his corruption conviction.

Reframing Silver?

The New York Post, in a 7/13/17 editorial headlined The evidence still shows Shelly Silver is guilty, guilty, guilty, suggested "the evidence against Silver shows corruption under the new rules as well as the old," 


He also observed that the Silver and Skelos cases "sent a strong message to others in the scandal-scarred Legislature that there was a cop on the beat watching... It's no coincidence that for the first time in recent memory, legislative leaders earned virtually nothing in outside income in 2016."

What next?

Long Island state Senator (and former federal prosecutor) Todd Kaminsky, in a Daily News op-ed, suggested three state reforms:
  • Restrict gift-giving to public officials. 
  • Ban outside income for lawmakers. 
  • Empower [local] district attorneys. 
Well, local DAs can be part of the political system, even more so than federal prosecutors.

Politico reported As Silver's conviction falls, reformers shudder:
Regardless, reform advocates in New York said something would have to change or Albany would just get worse. [Citizens Union's Dick] Dadey said he believed it would embolden lawmakers who were tempted to cheat or steal. Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua, said "shows that the golden age of Albany corruption is still very much alive."
"If his actions weren’t illegal," Kolb said, "it’s hard to imagine what is."

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