Jimmy Dimora seeks new trial

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CLEVELAND - Former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora is asking a federal appeals court for a new trial - arguing, in part, that he was convicted for conduct that is no longer considered criminal.

Dimora became the face of a massive FBI probe of county government that led to the convictions of more than 50 people.

He was convicted in 2012 on over 30 bribery-related convictions, and is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence.

Unlike many people who agreed to plea deals, Dimora maintained he did nothing wrong.

His lawyers, David Mills and Phil Kushner, now contend that the law has changed in his favor.

In a brief filed Thursday, they argue those changes, coupled with errors made the judge who oversaw Dimora's trial, mean that the former commissioner should be entitled to a new trial.

Since Dimora's conviction, the U.S. Supreme Court has narrowed the definition of "corruption." Basically, the high court now says the corruption must involve an "official act" to be a crime.

While prosecutors used to view most any act an elected official did as an "official act,"  the Supreme Court has ruled in the past couple years that such an act has to, in effect, have some weight - more like casting an official vote on a matter, as opposed to executing mundane tasks such as sending a fax.

In addition, an appeals court already ruled that the trial judge's decision not to allow Dimora to show the jury his ethics report was an error.

Dimora said those reports would show he wasn't hiding what the government called "bribes," but rather, was reporting what Dimora called "gifts."

The appeals court ruled that error was "harmless" regarding the convictions - but Dimora's attorneys say the new, narrower definition of corruption calls that into question.

The trial judge has already denied Dimora's efforts at a new trial.

She ruled, in essence, that Dimora's corruption was so widespread that he would have been convicted even under the new definition of corruption.

Dimora's lawyers have asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments on the case.

Read more stories on Dimora, here.

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