Press Release June 27, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Vacates Bribery Convictions of Former VA Gov. McDonnell

The U.S. Supreme Court today voted unanimously to overturn the corruption convictions of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell in a case in which Alston & Bird submitted an amici brief on behalf of 77 former state attorneys general who challenged the convictions.

Writing for the Court, Chief Justice John Roberts rejected the federal government's view of how broadly federal bribery laws can reach and referenced the firm’s amici brief in his opinion.

A bipartisan group, the former attorneys general urged the High Court to reverse McDonnell’s convictions, arguing that they “portend a standardless expansion of federal criminal law into state politics that will convert routine aspects of the political process into federal crimes.”

A federal appeals court unanimously upheld the former governor's convictions in 2015, after a jury found McDonnell guilty in 2014 of breaking a law that bars public officials from taking gifts in exchange for "official action.”

None of the gifts in question were illegal under Virginia law, which had no limit on gifts or loans given to public officials. But McDonnell was charged with violating federal anti-corruption statutes.

The former attorneys general are represented by Alston & Bird lawyers Ted Kang, Brian Boone, and Emily McGowan.

The case is Robert F. McDonnell v. U.S.A., case number 15-474, in the Supreme Court of the United States.
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Nicholas Clarke
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