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Defense lawyers group supports Sheldon Silver in brief attacking U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) leaves Southern District Federal Court in Manhattan after his arraignment on corruption charges on Feb. 24, 2015. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Over objections from the government, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers on Thursday filed a brief attacking U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's pretrial comments on corruption charges against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The NACDL, a prominent national legal group, chimed in to support Silver's claims that Bharara's public anti-corruption campaign in news conferences, TV interviews and speeches had stepped over the line, and that charges should be dismissed.

"This is a criminal prosecution, not a political campaign -- but one wouldn't know it from the conduct of the United States Attorney in this case," said the brief. " ... No defendant could resist the media onslaught Sheldon Silver has endured."

In a motion asking U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni to consider the brief, the group said Bharara's office opposed the group's participation and did not think the brief should be filed.

Prosecutors contend that Bharara's public comments have merely described allegations, and have not been out of bounds. A spokesman for Bharara had no immediate comment Thursday.

Silver was charged in January with making $4 million from two corrupt schemes in which he allegedly helped real estate developers on legislation and funneled research money to a doctor in return for them using law firms that paid him.

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