Claiming that jurors were improperly instructed, lawyers for former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi and a former lobbyist argued in federal appeals court Tuesday that his conspiracy, extortion and fraud convictions should be overturned, the Associated Press reported.
DiMasi's laywer, Thomas R. Kiley, said that U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf failed in 2011 to give jurors proper guidance as to what is considered legal lobbying. However, U.S. District Attorney John-Alex Romano disputed that claim, saying that the jurors got the right instructions, according to a Boston Globe report.
DiMasi was sentenced to eight years in prison on the convictions. His co-defendant, lobbyist Richard McDonough, got seven years. According to the government's case, DiMasi took a $65,000 kickback (arranged by McDonough and others) in exchange for securing a state contract for Burlington software company Cognos.
McDonough's lawyer, Martin Weinberg, argued that though the lobbying may appear unseemly, it is legal.
The three-judge appellate panel, which includes retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter, took the case under advisement.