Appeals Court Hears Arguments in Ex-Governor's Case

Posted: Updated: May 12, 2015 03:52 PM
Former Governor Bob McDonnell Former Governor Bob McDonnell
Bob McDonnell Bob McDonnell
Former Governor Bob McDonnell exiting appeals court Former Governor Bob McDonnell exiting appeals court
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - Former Governor Bob McDonnell's future now rests with a three-judge panel in Richmond. It's part of an ongoing effort to fight the corruption conviction he is facing.

Tuesday's hearing was before a panel of federal judges in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

McDonnell's lawyer argued that the guilty verdict handed down last summer needs to be thrown out. The defense said that the definition of an "official act" was overly broad and, by the logic given, could sweep in almost every lawmaker to a corruption case.

"Governor McDonnell never did anything for Jonnie WIlliams, which is why Jonnie Williams got nothing," said Noel Francisco, appeal lawyer for Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell's attorney also said the jurors weren't checked to see if they were biased by heavy media coverage before the trial.

"There's nothing that has been done here that's violated the law. I know that in my heart," the former governor said.

The prosecution said it stands by the allegations against the governor; that Bob McDonnell accepted thousands of dollars in gifts and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his products.

The judges are now deciding if they should strike down the ruling or uphold the federal corruption convictions. They asked probing questions to both sides, and it is not definitive which way they will rule. The judges could take several weeks or months to make their decision.

"I've been a prosecutor, I've prosecuted a lot of cases in my life, and I have confidence that the system normally gets it right," said Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell, four of his children and his wife Maureen were all in the courtroom for Tuesday's hearing.

Bob and Maureen McDonnell remain free on bond as the appeal process plays out. Earlier this year, he was sentenced to two years in prison while she got one year and one day.