Former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson, convicted on bribery and racketeering charges and sentenced to a Congressional-record 13-year sentence, recently received a couple of significant holiday-season gifts from Judge T.J. Ellis III.
Recently, Judge Ellis decided that Jefferson is not a flight risk and may remain free pending appeal, a process that may take a year or more. During that time, Jefferson must wear a monitor and may not travel without prior court approval.
Today, Judge Ellis agreed that Jefferson's legal expenses will be covered by the court during his appeal. Jefferson and his wife recently filed for bankruptcy, due in large part to the legal bills incurred during his trial.
Admittedly, Jefferson might have problems paying for new legal bills out of his Congressional pension, estimated to be $40,000 to $55,000 per year. Then again, once he's incarcerated, he won't be shelling out a lot on food, clothing or shelter.
Trial Judge T.S. Ellis III Friday OK'd the appointment of Robert Trout and Amy Jackson, two of the three attorneys who represented Jefferson almost from the first day the federal investigation of the nine-term New Orleans Democrat became known on Aug. 3, 2005, with raids of the then congressman's Washington and New Orleans homes.
Their fees will be covered by the court, though the rates will be similar to those provided public defenders and far less than the prominent white collar attorneys generally charge.
Ellis also said that a transcript of the eight-week trial, which the court reporter estimated would cost $26,000, will be paid for by the court.