Former New York Senate leader Dean Skelos asked an appeals court Monday for a new trial, citing the precedent set when former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last month was granted a new trial on corruption charges.
Attorney Alexandra Shapiro wrote in papers filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that the Republican Skelos, like the Democrat Silver, is entitled to a new trial because public corruption laws were recently freshly defined by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"A man should not be deprived of his liberty by a jury that never even had to consider whether his conduct was criminal. Dean Skelos is entitled to a new, fair trial with a properly instructed jury," Shapiro wrote.
Skelos was convicted in 2015 on extortion, bribery and conspiracy charges. He was sentenced last year to five years in prison. He has remained free on appeal. That's in part because it was unclear what effect, if any, a Supreme Court ruling reversing the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell would have on the Skelos case.
The 2nd Circuit last month tossed out the conviction of Silver, saying the jury was not instructed properly in light of the Supreme Court ruling. Silver's lawyers are appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court, arguing that the 2nd Circuit incorrectly found that there was sufficient evidence for a new jury to convict if it is properly instructed on the law.
The 2nd Circuit, which already has heard oral arguments in the Skelos case, invited lawyers to submit additional written arguments after the Silver conviction was overturned.
Prosecutors submitted papers of their own Monday, saying the conviction of Skelos should be upheld.