Alexandra Shapiro Argues Corruption Case In The Second Circuit
On May 18, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in United States v. Skelos, No. 16-1618, held oral arguments in the appeal of former New York State Senator Dean Skelos and his son Adam, who were convicted in 2015 of federal corruption charges in the Southern District of New York. Ms. Shapiro argued that, at a minimum, Mr. Skelos is entitled to a new trial because the jury instruction on the “official act” element was erroneous under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in McDonnell v. United States, No. 15-474. Because of the way the government presented its case and argued it to the jury, Ms. Shapiro argued, the jury may have convicted based on conduct such as arranging or attending meetings, which is not criminal under McDonnell; and because the jury may have convicted based on an invalid legal theory, the judgment must be vacated under controlling Supreme Court precedents.