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September 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Tag: Robert Trout

Constitutional Clause Causing Headaches for Justice Department in Probes on Capitol Hill

exRep. Jefferson at sentencing in 2009 /Sketch by Art Lien/NBC News

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — A 2007 court ruling saying FBI agents violated the Constitution when they raided the Congressional office of Rep. William J. Jefferson in 2006, appears to be haunting the Justice Department.

Washington Post reporters Jerry Markon and R. Jeffrey Smith report that the 2007 ruling, based on the “speech or debate”clause ,   “has helped derail or slow several recent corruption investigations of lawmakers, according to court documents and sources.” The clause protects members of Congress who are conducting official business from some scrutiny or intrusion from the Justice Department.

Ex-Rep. John Doolittle

The Post reports that since the ruling “speech or debate challenges have killed an investigation of former representative Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), hampered probes of Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.) and former representative John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.), and slowed a pending corruption case against former representative Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), sources familiar with those inquiries said.”

In a 3 to 0 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled that FBI agents went too far in searching Jefferson’s office in May 2006 when they viewed paper documents before giving Jefferson an opportunity to say whether the material was connected to legislative activity, and consequently protected by the “speech or debate” clause. Jefferson lost his bid for re-election in 2008.

And though he won a big pre-trial legal battle over the search of his office,  he went on to get convicted on 11 of 16 public corruption counts and was sentenced in Alexandria, Va. to 13 years in prison. He remains free pending an appeal.

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Ex-Rep William Jefferson Gets Big Break: Judge Allows Him to Remain Free Pending Appeal

Jefferson stands next to attorney Robert Trout during sentencing /Sketch by Art Lien/NBC News

Jefferson stands next to attorney Robert Trout during sentencing /Sketch by Art Lien/NBC News

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Ever since FBI agents raided his homes in Washington and New Orleans in 2005, little has gone his way. But Wednesday was different for ex-Rep. William Jefferson, who faces a 13 year prison sentence.

In an unexpected move, and against the advice of the prosecution, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria, Va. ruled that Jefferson, 62, could stay out of prison pending the outcome of an appeal, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He was convicted in August of 11 public corruption counts.

The ruling means Jefferson, who lost a bid for a 10th term in Congress last year, could remain free for at least another year. In court papers filed last week, his attorney had acknowledged the possibility that Jefferson might soon have to report to prison shortly after sentencing, and asked that the judge at least let him spend Christmas with the family.

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Jefferson’s Lawyer Thinks He Should Get Less than 10 Years — Not the 27 to 33 Years Prosecutors Want

William J. Jefferson

William J. Jefferson

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Ex-Rep. William  Jefferson, who is painfully aware of “the stain on his honor”,  should get a sentence of less than 10 years, not the 27 to 33 years recommended by the prosecution, Jefferson’s lawyer wrote in a motion filed Monday.

“No court has ever imposed a sentence longer than 100 months in a case involving a United States Congressman, even a United States Congressman convicted of bribery after a trial,” Jefferson’s attorney Robert P. Trout wrote just days before Friday’s sentencing in Alexandria, Va.

” In light of all of the facts and circumstances set forth… the defense urges the court to impose a sentence of less than 10 years in this case,” Trout wrote. Jefferson was convicted in the summer of 11 of 16 counts of corruption.

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And the Answer is: Ex-Rep William Jefferson Won’t Testify at His Trial

After all the speculation and suspense, in the end, the defense played it safe and decided not to let Jefferson take the stand on his own behalf. With 16 counts, the odds are stacked against the Congressman. So it may be hard to tell whether it was the right move.

The Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

The Jefferson trial/courtesy of Art Lien/NBC News

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
ALEXANDRIA, VA. — Former Rep. William Jefferson is not expected to testify in his federal corruption trial, his attorney said today, setting up the possibility that the defense could open and rest its case Thursday.

Lead attorney Robert Trout told Judge T.S. Ellis III, that “we do not expect” to call the nine-term Democrat to testify on his on behalf.

Ellis said both sides had assured him they could wrap up the case by mid-day Thursday, when the court will recess for a long weekend, staying out through Monday. Closing arguments could begin when court resumes Tuesday, with the jury getting the case later next week.

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