Federal Courthouse Prepares for Day One of the McDonnell Trial

Posted: Updated: Jul 28, 2014 10:15 AM

A federal courthouse in Richmond is preparing for the first criminal prosecution of a Virginia governor in the commonwealth's history.

The corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife begins Monday.

Both McDonnell’s face 14 federal charges in the gifts for favors scandal. The trial is expected to reveal some very personal details of life inside the governor's mansion.

The fundamental question this trial will address lies in the phrase 'quid pro quo.' It's the legal term for political exchanges, meaning "something for something" in Latin.

If the jury finds that McDonnell crossed the line, and took gifts for purely personal gain, he could face decades in prison.

The former governor and first lady allegedly accepted around $165,000 in gifts from Star Scientific’s former CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his products. The gifts included $15,000 for a daughter's wedding, money for shopping, a Rolex watch, and weekend trips.

Attorney Kyle McNew said, "The problem lies in if you're doing it in some sort of undisclosed benefit to yourself"

The honest services doctrine says public officials cannot accept bribes. The question, is where the line is drawn on what exactly a bribe is and if the governor's actions were illegal.

Monday is day one of the McDonnell’s' trial. The judge will need to assess potential jurors, and select 12 people, before proceedings begin.

The trial is expected to last four to 6 weeks.

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