A federal appeals court has overturned the conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan ruled the judge overseeing Silver's trial did not give proper instructions to the jury that convicted him of corruption in 2015.
The court cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on official conduct involving former Virginia Governor Bob McDonell.
The appeals court ruling stated:
We recognize that many would view the facts adduced at Silver's trial with distaste. The question presented to us, however, is not how a jury would likely view the evidence presented by the Government. Rather, it is whether it is clear, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a rational jury, properly instructed, would have found Silver guilty. Given the teachings of the Supreme Court in McDonnell, and the particular circumstances of this case, we simply cannot reach that conclusion. Accordingly, we are required to vacate the honest services fraud and extortion counts against Silver, as well as the money laundering count.
Prosecutors say Silver pocketed nearly $4 million dollars in payments in return for politcal favors.
He has been allowed to remain free pending the outcome of his appeal.