(NDG Wire) US District Court Judge Barbara Lynn is considering overturning two verdicts in motions filed by Ray Jackson, Managing Partner, Jackson Law Firm and Victor Vital, Trial Partner of international law firm Baker Botts L.L.P. The two lawyers are challenging the convictions of former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Don and wife Sheila Hill in the largest public corruption trial in city of Dallas history. Jackson and Vital filed motions in late October seeking an acquittal or new trial on all charges and counts against their clients relating to the former mayoral candidate having orchestrated a complex pay-for-influence scheme.
At the hearing on the motions, Judge Lynn expressed an inclination to grant the lawyers’ motion to set aside the convictions for conspiracy to commit deprivation of honest services. She noted cases scheduled for argument before the United States Supreme Court on December 8th might be instructive and would reserve her ruling pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on those cases (U.S. v. Black and U.S. v. Weyrauch). The honest services statute has had wide commentary, with many conservative and liberal groups aligning to have the statute overturned on vagueness and other grounds. “The Supreme Court ought to toss the statute and have Congress rewrite,” said Vital to Judge Lynn as reported in The Dallas Morning News following the hearing.
Judge Lynn also reserved ruling on the lawyers’ motion to set aside convictions for conspiracy to commit money laundering because of concerns that prosecutors were using the money laundering statute improperly. She denied all other motions for acquittals and new trials.
The jury found Hill, his wife and three other defendants guilty of various charges on October 5, 2009 two years after they were indicted. The motions filed by Jackson for Don Hill sought acquittal of all charges citing various Supreme Court cases, rulings and legal standards and the government’s failure to provide any evidence of the offenses in which he was charged. Those counts included bribery, extortion, deprivation of honest services and money laundering.
Vital filed motions for Hill’s wife to request a separate new trial based on the weight of the evidence and jury misconduct. Other motions filed by Vital include asking for acquittal of charges of bribery, extortion and money laundering.
The federal government indicted Hill and his wife along with his former City Plan Commissioner appointee, a community and civil rights activist and a local businessman in the fall of 2007 on charges of bribery, extortion, wire fraud and money laundering, among other charges, involving two rival affordable housing developers. Both developers became government witnesses – one of whom with his wife pled guilty and became a government witness one day before jury selection while the other became the government’s chief informant nearly four years ago.
The attorneys, who have been recognized as two of Dallas’ leading trial attorneys, are graduates of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston. They are confident about the appellate prospects of their motions. “We respect the judge’s decision and look forward to the appeal. It is still our strong opinion that the government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any evidence against our clients,” said Jackson and Vital.