It was a moment of panic that swept the defendants’ side of the courtroom, on the oppressively hot afternoon of Sept. 4, 2014 in Richmond. Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell lost composure along with scores of his supporters, after a federal jury convicted McDonnell on all counts of public corruption.
The jury found him guilty of 11 out of 13 charges in all. His wife, former Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell, was ultimately convicted on eight out of 13 charges.
Months later in freezing temperatures, U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer imposed a sentence of two years in prison for McDonnell, with his wife sentenced to one year and one day behind bars.
Now a year after the verdicts, the talk of Richmonders and close observers of the case is “when will it end?” Will former Gov. McDonnell’s appeal go to the United States Supreme Court?
After discussing the case with NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams, the possibility remains that we may not know until 2016 if the Supreme Court will grant McDonnell's request to hear his appeal.
Here’s how things stand with the former governor:
- Aug. 31, 2015, Chief Justice John Roberts said McDonnell can stay out of prison, until the High Court decides whether to hear his appeal (grant certiorari).
- If certiorari is granted, McDonnell will stay out of prison until the Supreme Court issues a judgement in his case.
The McDonnell defense has until Nov. 9, 2015 to submit its petition for certiorari.
Then, the United States government has 30 days to respond.
That takes us into December.
The final day for the justices to issue orders for 2015 is Dec. 14. So if the court hasn’t acted by the 14th, McDonnell has Christmas with his family and waits for the next orders day, Jan. 11, 2016.
There is no deadline for the justices to act on the appeal. Sometimes the Court can act quickly, and sometimes cases are discussed over and over before action is taken.
Observers maintain it is highly unlikely the Supreme Court will hear the appeal, after none of the 15 federal appeals judges in Richmond voted to reconsider McDonnell’s convictions.
Meantime, Maureen McDonnell will have her appeal heard in Richmond Oct. 29, 2015.
A decision on her appeal will likely be reached within two to three months. A three judge panel can either deny her appeal, grant a new trial, or throw out any of her convictions.
If the former first lady’s appeal is denied, she may then ask for all 15 federal appeals judges to consider her case.
But if history repeats itself and the Fourth Circuit judges decide not to reconsider the appeal, Mrs. McDonnell may, like her husband, find herself trying to take her case to the U.S. Supreme Court.