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Silver retrial jury selection to begin next week, judge rules

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits a federal courthouse after a pretrial hearing in Manhattan on April 10. Credit: Charles Eckert

The federal judge overseeing the retrial of former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver on Wednesday ruled that jury selection will occur next week, but opening statements and testimony will be delayed until April 30 because of a health issue involving a key government witness.

Manhattan U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni ordered the adjournment, requested by prosecutors, as questionnaires were filled out Wednesday by about 100 prospective jurors, to help winnow those eligible to serve before they appear on April 16 for an oral voir dire and final selection.

Silver is charged with two corruption schemes, in which he did legislative favors for a mesothelioma researcher and a real estate company in return for referrals and fees to two law firms with which he was affiliated. He was convicted in 2015, but his conviction was overturned on appeal.

The retrial is expected to last 4 to 6 weeks. The delay is a result of health problems for Dr. Robert Taub, the Columbia University cancer researcher who allegedly referred patients suffering from mesothelioma to Silver’s law firm in return for $500,000 in state grants.

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