The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit granted Senator Robert Menendez’s motion to stay its mandate while he petitions the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether the political corruption charges against him are based on constitutionally protected legislative acts. As previously documented on this blog, Menendez moved to dismiss the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. He argued in part that the Speech and Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution insulated him from prosecution on his alleged efforts to influence various government actions on behalf of prominent Democratic Party donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen.
After the district court denied the motion as to the bulk of Menendez’s charges, Menendez appealed to the Third Circuit. On July 29, 2016, the Court found that Menendez’s acts were “ambiguously legislative” and thus subject to the district court’s determination as to whether they were protected activity based on its evaluation of Menendez’s motive and purpose. The Court then found “a sufficient basis for the [district] court’s conclusion that the predominant purpose of the challenged acts was to pursue a political resolution to Dr. Melgen’s disputes,” and affirmed the denial of the motion to dismiss.
The affirmance green-lighted Menendez’s trial, but the stay will put the brakes on any further proceedings until (1) Menendez petitions the Supreme Court for a Writ of Certiorari – i.e., the opportunity to be heard – and (2) the high court decides whether to grant cert. In a typical year, the Supreme Court agrees to review between 1% and 6% of the criminal cases in which a cert petition is filed. Most successful cert petitions present important questions of federal law that lower courts have answered inconsistently.
In opposing Menendez’s motion for a stay, the government contended that Menendez’s claim was highly unlikely to engender Supreme Court review. “Where, as here, a defendant lacks a meritorious claim to advance further on appeal, the public gains nothing, and potentially loses material evidence, by further delaying trial,” it said. Menendez, in contrast, characterizes the issue as “a substantial [Speech and Debate Clause] question that has divided the courts of appeals and that is of fundamental importance to bedrock constitutional principles of separation of powers.”
For more White Collar blog posts, click here.
As COVID-19 continues to spread globally and throughout Pennsylvania, most employers will be faced with the question of how to respond when an employee tests positive, or has exposure to the coronavirus, and will need to determine when those employees can safely return to work. In part, it depends on whether the employee has simply… Read more »Read More
Partner Marc S. Raspanti will be speaking at the Health Care Compliance Association’s virtual 2020 Healthcare Enforcement Compliance Conference in November. During the three-day conference, attendees will hear first‑hand from government officials about regulatory changes, expectations, and key priorities in the Healthcare Enforcement sector. Attendees can further gain the knowledge and skills needed to properly… Read more »Read More
Nationally-recognized False Claims Act Attorney Pamela C. Brecht will present “The False Claims Act and Dealing with Whistleblowers” at Seton Hall University School of Law on Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Ms. Brecht, Chair of the Firm’s Qui Tam & False Claims Act practice, will be co-presenting with Morgan Lewis Partner Meredith S. Auten. For more… Read more »Read More
Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP Partner Pamela Coyle Brecht will present “The False Claims Act Update” at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s (PBI) A Day in Health Law program on October 28, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A Day on Health Law is a one-day, six-hour spin-off of PBI’s annual Health Law Institute. The Health… Read more »Read More