Silver Conviction Vacated Due to Jury InstructionsJuly 21, 2017
On July 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit released an opinion vacating the conviction of Sheldon Silver and remanding the case to the district court for further proceedings including a retrial. The Second Circuit concluded that the evidence of guilt was sufficient to permit a retrial, but found that the jury instructions did not comport with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2016 in McDonnell v. United States, and that the error was not harmless. The panel took no joy in rendering its decision, observing that “many would view the facts adduced at Silver’s trial with dis-taste.” Nor did the panel blame either the district court or the government for the reversal, recognizing that the McDonnell decision—which changed the law of the Circuit—was issued after the Silver trial had concluded. Nevertheless, the panel—composed of Judges Jose A. Cabranes, Richard C. Wesley, and William K. Sessions III, sitting by designation from the District of Vermont—felt itself compelled by McDonnell and the facts of the case to decide the matter as it did.
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