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United States v. Silver

103 F.Supp.3d 370 (S.D.N.Y. 2015)

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United States v. Silver

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

103 F.Supp.3d 370 (S.D.N.Y. 2015)

Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) filed a sealed complaint charging former New York Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver (defendant) with corruption. Silver agreed to surrender and was driven by unmarked car to the courthouse for processing. But the press started reporting about the arrest and the charges’ substance in the early morning hours beforehand, despite the complaint remaining sealed. Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara held a press conference and issued a press release. Bharara emphasized the charges remained only allegations, but criticized the corrupt culture of local politics and suggested Silver monetized his office. His office tweeted Bharara’s comments: “Bharara: Silver monetized his position . . . and misled the public about his outside income,” and “Bharara: Politicians are supposed to be on the ppl’s payroll, not on secret retainer to wealthy special interest they do favors for.” The next day, Bharara gave a publicized speech and chose to address corruption and Silver’s charges because of the timing. When MSNBC interviewed Bharara, he again impugned Silver, suggesting he “sold his office to line his pockets.” The grand jury indicted Silver shortly afterward. Claiming Bharara’s remarks caused irreparable harm, Silver moved to dismiss the indictment, or at least to poll the grand jury and disclose its minutes to detect improper influence.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Caproni, J.)

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