Thursday, April 21, 2016

Government says Maggio should go to jail during appeal

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 3:43 PM

MIKE MAGGIO: Government argues for jailing pending appeal. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • MIKE MAGGIO: Government argues for jailing pending appeal.

The U.S. government today said former judge Mike Maggio of Conway should be jailed May 23 on his bribery conviction despite a pending appeal.

His attorney had asked earlier this week that he remain free. Maggio pleaded guilty to taking money to reduce a jury verdict in a nursing home damage case from $5.2 to $1 million. No one else has been indicted, though a nursing home owner and a former senator who bundled campaign contributions for a race Maggio planned for Arkansas Court of Appeals, were implicated in Maggio's indictment. They have denied wrongdoing.

Judge Brian Miller refused Maggio's attempt to withdraw a guilty plea before sentencing him to 10 years. Maggio's attorney James Hensley said he should remain free because of the strength of appeal arguments, mainly that he should have been allowed to withdraw the guilty plea and that the facts didn't fit the crime for which he was convicted.

The U.S. attorney said Maggio had knowingly waived a right to appeal in entering his guilty plea. It said he'd also agreed with issues he now challenges — such as whether federal funds were involved in the operation of the court in which he took the bribe. The argument continues:

Maggio also argues that the Court accepted his plea without an adequate factual basis to show a “quid pro quo arrangement,” referring to the explicit agreement to remit a verdict in exchange for a campaign contribution. As indicated above, the issue on appeal must present “a close question” that could go either way – not simply that “reasonable judges could differ.”  This Court has previously outlined Maggio’s factual admissions regarding the explicit agreement to remit a verdict in exchange for a campaign contribution. In summary, the stipulated facts establish that Individual B [believed to be Gilbert Baker] communicated to Maggio that Individual A [believed to be nursing home owner Michael Morton] would provide Maggio with campaign donations in exchange for a remittitur of the verdict, and that Maggio remitted the verdict accordingly. There is no close question about whether these facts constitute a quid pro quo sufficient for the Court to conclude that Maggio violated § 666.
In conclusion, the government argued:

The statutory language of the Bail Reform Act favors detention for defendants who have been convicted and sentenced. The Eighth Circuit has made very clear that release pending appeal  is a very limited exception to detention. Because Maggio cannot demonstrate a “substantial question of law or fact” necessary to satisfy § 3143(b)(1)(B), the Court need not consider whether Maggio meets the criteria of danger to the community and flight risk. Maggio has not met his burden of establishing that he is entitled to release pending appeal, and he should proceed directly to jail on Monday, May 23, 2016.

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