A unanimous U.S. Supreme court decision today that threw out the bribery conviction of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell had the allies of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) doing a behind the scenes end zone dance.
As Menendez dangles by his own corruption case thread, the decision rejected the federal government’s view of how broadly bribery laws extend.
Bribery is among 14 charges Menendez confronts.
Veteran defense attorney Joe Hayden told PolitickerNJ he was not prepared to say the decision gets New Jersey’s senior senator off the hook. But “this is a very significant decision for bribery prosecutions. I think the McDonnell decision has potential far reaching implications.
“I frankly think this decision is very good news for [former Bergen County Democratic Organization Chairman] Joe Ferriero, on appeal.”
Hayden said the precedent of the McDonnell decision could benefit Menendez in the general sense, but mostly in the general sense.
“What the decision says is that you shouldn’t use ambiguous conduct as the basis of a criminal conviction,” the attorney told PolitickerNJ. “And remember, the decision was unanimous. The courts have concerns that however tawdry, it it has to be something that was criminal.”