It looks like the high level Republican official convicted for his role in the New Hampshire phone jamming might get off on a technicality.
An appeals court yesterday reversed the conviction of James Tobin
. Tobin has been sentenced to 10 months in prison, 2 years probation, and a $10,000 fine, but has stayed out of prison during the appeal.
In a decision that turned on the technicalities of the statute under which Tobin was convicted, the First Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court to hash out the issue. It was not a total victory for Tobin's lawyers, who had sought an acquittal.
But a lawyer friend describes the decision as a major hit to the prosecution:
OK, I read it. This is a big deal, more than just appellate ping pong.
The conviction is overturned because of flawed jury instructions. So the government would have to retry Tobin, but the language of the ruling pretty strongly suggests that the Circuit Court is not convinced that the statute applies here, a position the district court is likely to consider carefully in entertaining any motion from Tobin to dismiss.
If I were a prosecutor, I'd be hard-pressed to retry the case. Even if you managed to get the case to trial again in front of the district judge, you have a very skeptical circuit court waiting for another appeal.
Tobin may very well walk.
You can read a copy of the decision here
. And this is an invitation for you lawyers out there to weigh in in the comments.