Silver to Remain Free During Appeal

NEW YORK (AP) -
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, front right, leaves court in New York after his conviction on May 3, 2016. On Silver's right is his attorney Joel Cohen; behind Silver is his attorney Steven Molo. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, front right, leaves court in New York  on May 3, 2016. On Silver’s right is his attorney Joel Cohen; behind Silver is his attorney Steven Molo. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A judge ruled that former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver can remain free while appealing a conviction and 12-year prison sentence for corruption.

Silver’s lawyers had argued that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this summer – which reversed the public corruption conviction of former Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell – improves Silver’s chances on appeal.

Manhattan federal Judge Valerie Caproni ruled Thursday that Silver, a 72-year-old Democrat, can remain free on appeal because it is a “close question” whether legal instructions the jury received before returning its verdict last year were erroneous. She says it is up to the jury to decide whether the potentially erroneous legal instructions were harmless errors.

Prosecutors declined comment. Defense lawyers said they are grateful for the ruling.