Jefferson Trial On Hold

Posted November 11, 2008 at 2:50pm

Rep. William Jefferson (D–La.) will not face trial before the state’s general election on Dec. 6, as his court date has been delayed pending a ruling on an appeal the Congressman filed over constitutional issues. The trial had been set for Dec. 2, but it is unclear when it will be rescheduled.

A lawyer for Jefferson said the appeal, related to the Speech or Debate Clause in the Constitution, is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and Jefferson’s trial cannot go forward until that appeal is resolved.

This is not the first time the case has been put on hold. The trial was originally set to begin last January, but was held off because of an ongoing appeal on another issue. In June, Judge T.S. Ellis III of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia set Dec. 2 as a tentative date, but acknowledged the possibility of further delays because of appeals. Ellis canceled a status hearing on Jefferson’s case that had been scheduled for last Friday.

Jefferson was charged in a 16-count indictment with offering and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to promote business ventures in West African nations.

Despite facing federal corruption charges, however, Jefferson defeated former television personality Helena Moreno in a Democratic runoff on Nov. 4, and has a good chance of winning re-election in the heavily Democratic second district in December.