Prosecutors ask for spring retrial of ex-NY Assembly speaker

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NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors asked a federal judge Friday to set a spring retrial date for ex-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a day after an appeals court said he could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to end his prosecution.

The government requested in a letter that a Manhattan judge schedule a trial for March, April or May, saying it was in the public interest for a retrial to occur promptly. The trial is expected to last a month.

The request comes a day after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to let Silver's lawyers ask the U.S. Supreme Court to look at the case. The Supreme Court turns down most requests.

Prosecutors have said a defense request of the Supreme Court should not delay any retrial, especially since a key witness is over age 80.

Silver, 73, was sentenced last year to 12 years in prison after he was convicted of public corruption charges in late 2015.

The conviction was overturned last month by the 2nd Circuit, which said that the trial judge would need to instruct jurors on the law in a different manner to conform with the Supreme Court's recent decision that reversed the public corruption conviction of Virginia Republican ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell.

In its ruling, the high court narrowed the definition of what constitutes an "official act" by a politician, making it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain convictions in some public corruption cases.

Silver's lawyers say the Supreme Court may well conclude as a matter of law that Silver should not have to face trial again.

Prosecutors disagree, saying the defense is engaging in a "delay tactic" almost certain to fail. They have said in court papers: "Silver's retrial is inevitable, regardless of the outcome of any one of his claims in the Supreme Court."

Silver's lawyers did not immediately comment Friday.

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