By Jordan Weissmann
Lawyers for former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring have asked a federal judge to delay their client's retrial in order to give the U.S. Supreme Court time to rule on three cases that could affect his defense.
The three cases, including the yet-to-be-argued Skilling v. U.S., address the federal honest services statute, which prosecutors used to charge Ring on six separate counts of fraud. In October, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the District of Columbia declared a mistrial in Ring’s case after a jury deadlocked on all eight counts against him. His new trial is currently set for June 21.
In a motion filed Monday afternoon, Ring’s lawyers—a team from Miller & Chevalier, including partner Andrew Wise—argued that their client’s trial should be delayed until October, by which time the justices should have clarified their position on the honest services law. His lawyers note that during oral arguments in two of the cases the high court is considering—Black v. U.S. and Weyhrauch v. U.S.—justices questioned whether the statute was overbroad or vague. The Skilling case, meanwhile, includes an outright challenge to the statute, and might not be decided until well into June.
“It is clear that if the Court does not strike down the statute altogether, it will, at least, provide extensive guidance and much-needed definition to an often-criticized statute,” Ring’s lawyers wrote.
How the Court comes down will affect what charges Ring would face in a second trial, as well as whether certain key defense witnesses choose to testify or take the Fifth, Ring’s lawyers argued. They said it would also determine whether guilty pleas by several government witnesses would remain in effect.
According to the Jan. 25 motion, the government is opposing a continuance in the case, but has agreed to a status hearing to discuss scheduling.