Just this morning, Governor McDonnell’s appeal to the Fourth Circuit was denied by a unanimous three Judge Panel in Richmond. The chances of overturning his convictions are now minimal.[read_more]
The three judge panel hearing Governor McDonnel’s case denied his appeal stating, most importantly, that the definition of “official acts” utilized in the jury instructions was not overinclusive. McDonnell now has two (bad) options to still pursue.
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court: The Supreme Court faces approximately 10,000 cases per term but grant only approximately 100 writs of certiorari per term. Even if you weed out the thousands of frivilous pro se appeals (I am not saying all pro se appeals are frivilous) we are still talking about a less than 1% grant rate. Given the timing we would be looking at a grant or denial of appeal in late fall, early winter.
A petition for rehearing en banc(the entire court): This is a request to be heard before the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Under Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure in order to obtain a rehearing en banc, the litigant must convince a majority to hear the case (three have already suggested they would say no) and must either show 1. that the decision of the Court is in conflict with a decision from another Court of equal importance (No.), or 2. that the case presents a question of “exceptional importance.” “Exceptional Importance” is a legal term of art suggesting that the case will have wide reaching effect on other jurisprudence. It does not mean “really really important” as any case can be “really really important” to a subset of people.
In other words, McDonnell’s convictions are highly likely to stand, and he will be forever branded as a corrupt felon.
It may be of interest that all three Judges on the panel were appointed by Democrat Presidents, one by Clinton and two by Obama.
The Washington Post’s article on the denial of McDonnell’s appeal, with a great series of photographs from his trials is here.