Judge: NY ex-Assembly speaker can remain free during appeal

Posted: 8:25 AM, Aug 26, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-28 13:25:05Z

A judge says former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver can remain free while appealing a conviction and 12-year prison sentence.

Manhattan federal Judge Valerie Caproni ruled Thursday. The 72-year-old Democrat was convicted last year in a $5 million corruption scandal.

Silver's lawyers say a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this summer improves his chances on appeal. It reversed the public corruption conviction of former Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Caproni says Silver can remain free on appeal because it is a "close question" whether legal instructions the jury received before returning its verdict last year were erroneous. She says it is up to the jury to decide whether the potentially erroneous legal instructions were harmless errors.

Prosecutors declined comment.

Defense lawyers say they are grateful for the ruling.