McDonnell's Lawyers Want Arraignment Rescheduled

, Legal Times

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Where in the world is Jones Day's Hank Asbill?

Lawyers for former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell today unsuccessfully asked a federal trial judge in Virginia to delay the initial appearance and arraignment later this week for McDonnell and his wife on corruption charges, saying that Asbill—one of McDonnell's defense attorneys—is "out of the country at a location with no airport."

The motion didn't specify Asbill's location, but he confirmed today that he's traveling in the Grenadines. McDonnell's lawyers said that for Asbill to return to Washington, D.C., he'd have to take three airplane flights and a boat ride. As a result, McDonnell's lawyers said it would be almost impossible for Asbill to be back in time for the hearings scheduled for Jan. 24.

"And even if such travel were physically possible, there is no question that it would be extremely expensive," Asbill's co-counsel, John Brownlee of Holland & Knight, wrote in the motion.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge David Novak denied the request to delay the McDonnells' initial appearance, prompting the defendants to withdraw the request to push back the arraignment. Both hearings will take place as originally scheduled on Jan. 24.

Asbill is expected to return to Washington Jan. 24. According to the motion, he's traveling outside the United States with his wife in celebration of her birthday.

Brownlee wrote that Asbill's "attendance at the arraignment and initial appearance—where important determinations will likely be made and where critical schedules will be set—is essential."

According to the motion, lawyers for McDonnell's wife and the U.S. attorney's office don't object to rescheduling the arraignment for Jan. 31.

The McDonnells were charged yesterday with illegally accepting payments, loans and gifts in exchange for promoting a dietary supplement company. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, have denied the charges.

Lawyers for the McDonnells also filed motions yesterday seeking evidence from prosecutors.

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