Legal, political experts 'not surprised' following Supreme Court - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Legal, political experts 'not surprised' following Supreme Court decision to hear McDonnell’s appeal

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell leaves the courthouse after his wife, Maureen, was sentenced to one year in prison (Source: NBC12) Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell leaves the courthouse after his wife, Maureen, was sentenced to one year in prison (Source: NBC12)
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Experts tell NBC12, they weren't surprised by Friday's decision from the Supreme Court that it would hear McDonnell's
case.
When it's all said and done–one of three things could happen: McDonnell could go to prison, walk free or have a new trial right here at the federal courthouse, where this all started..

“I think they signaled when they let Governor McDonnell stay out of jail that were very likely to take this case,” says VCU Political Science chair Deirdre Condit.

She says the Supreme Court hearing McDonnell's case was foregone conclusion.

“I think this case is important enough given the controversy and the political impact of the lower court decisions it was probably inevitable that they take it,” she says.

In 2014, McDonnell and his wife were convicted of accepting more than 175-thousand dollars worth of gifts from Johnnie Williams, who wanted their help with his business.

McDonnell's lawyers argued it was politics, not corruption, taking place.. 

University of Richmond professor Henry Chambers, Jr. says the court will now have to decide if Williams actually received anything and if that was illegal.

“Governor McDonnell's position is I didn't do anything special for Johnnie Williams. I did for Johnnie Williams what I would have done for anybody else or it's not a bribe, what the Supreme Court is saying let's take a look at the law and find out whether the law's requirements–have 1. Been met. But 2. Whether they're constitutional or not,” explains Chambers.

While Virginians will be watching for the outcome of this case, Condit says so will the rest of the country.  She says this decision could determine the new normal for our political leaders:

“How far away from interacting with the citizens of democracy do our elected officials have to go? And by contrast, how close do they get to be?”

The Supreme Court is set to hear this case in April and a decision could come at the end of June.

Friday, the former Governor issued a statement saying he is 'innocent of these crimes and asks the Court to reverse these convictions.'

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