Court Rejects Jefferson Appeal

Posted December 12, 2008 at 2:49pm

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Friday rejected Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-La.) appeal to revisit his case after a three-judge panel refused to dismiss charges against him in November.

The Louisiana lawmaker had sought a full-court review of his 2007 federal indictment, asserting that prosecutors violated the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause when they provided the grand jury with evidence of his legislative activities.

The Fourth Circuit panel previously rejected that argument, ruling that even though evidence included the testimony of several Jefferson staffers, that information did not infringe on Speech or Debate protections.

Jefferson is 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.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia rejected Jefferson’s first attempt to dismiss the indictment in February.

A trial had been scheduled to begin in December in the district court, but was canceled pending the outcome of Jefferson’s appeal. The Louisianan is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial hearing on Tuesday.

Republican Anh Cao defeated Jefferson for the 2nd district seat in Saturday’s election, which was delayed because of Hurricane Gustav.