In a recent Law360 article, Manatt’s Richard Hartunian, a partner in the firm’s corporate investigation and white collar defense practice, discussed the recent Second Circuit decision to vacate convictions of ex-New York lawmaker Dean Skelos. According to the publication, this ruling gives insight into how courts view the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
The Skelos ruling found that faulty jury instructions undermined guilty verdicts against the former New York State Senate majority leader and his son. The court found that jury instructions at trial clashed with the 2016 McDonnell ruling, which found that broad charges in McDonnell’s case would have criminalized a wide range of legislative activity.
“McDonnell was a game-changer, because it made clear that meetings alone are not official acts,” explained Hartunian. “A decision or an action on a matter is required, and the jury has to be properly instructed on that point.”