October 20, 2005
Officer, arrest that man!

Long as we're celebrating, here's four more words to make you smile: Tom DeLay's arrest warrant.

Naturally, Team DeLay is whining like a scared puppy about being treated like a regular person.

The capias warrant by state District Judge Bob Perkins normally would have been a routine procedure in Texas after a person has been indicted on a felony. It requires that the defendant be arrested and have fingerprints and a mug shot taken.

But DeLay's lawyers had wanted to avoid an arrest and booking for DeLay. When DeLay was first indicted Sept. 28, they persuaded Earle to have District Judge Mike Lynch issue a summons, which would have legally allowed DeLay to avoid booking.

DeLay was expected to appear at the sheriff's office in Fort Bend County today for booking on state conspiracy and money laundering charges.

Fort Bend County Chief Deputy Craig Brady said arrangements were being made to bring DeLay to the sheriff's office in his home county sometime Thursday for booking and fingerprinting.

The process was expected to take between 45 minutes and an hour. Brady said a specific time had not been set, but Sheriff Milton Wright was contacted Wednesday by DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin.

Earle said Wednesday that he decided against asking for a summons for DeLay, R-Sugar Land, on a second set of indictments returned Oct. 3.

"We believe Congressman DeLay should be treated like everyone else," Earle said.

DeGuerin said the arrest warrant was issued because the defense team for DeLay and co-defendants Jim Ellis and John Colyandro has spent the last two weeks filing briefs claiming prosecutor misconduct by Earle.

"It's retaliation, plain and simple," DeGuerin said. "He's retaliating because we haven't given him any quarter."

Oh, you poor baby. That mean ol' Ronnie Earle, not showing you any milk of human kindness after all you've done for him. What is this world coming to?

Speaking of Earle, there's still some grumbling about his participation in the documentary film The Big Buy (see here for my review). Filmmakers Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck respond to their critics:

We've recorded the same Travis County district attorney whom every news organization covering this case has recorded. We just paid more attention for a longer time than most. That's what documentary filmmakers do. Those that consider Earle a villain and DeLay his victim will find things in our film to support their belief. Those who think DeLay is up to no good and Earle is the hero will likewise be supported in their views. We are equal-opportunity storytellers.

In short, we're basically doing the same job as the Statesman's own excellent reporter, Laylan Copelin. We're just doing it with a camera.

This is what puzzles us about our critics' reaction access to Earle is OK when it's on behalf of readers or TV news viewers, but it's not OK when it's on behalf of viewers of a documentary?

Finally, if you can't wait for a bootleg copy of DeLay's mug shot to get posted somewhere, In the Pink has a proxy to tide you over. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Forgot to include this article about the judge in the case, Bob Perkins.

Perkins, who ordered DeLay's arrest Wednesday, in the past has been involved in the prosecutions of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Texas House Speaker Gib Lewis. Perkins said he approaches cases involving politicians like any other in his criminal courtroom.

"My approach to this would not be any different than any other," Perkins said. "You've just got to play by the book and do what the law says. That's the only way you can assure that you are doing the right thing."

In 1993, Perkins administered the grand jury that indicted Hutchison, a Republican, on ethics charges.

Perkins removed himself from trying the case because he had given $300 to her Democratic opponent. He may face a similar appearance of conflict in the prosecution of DeLay, R-Sugar Land.

But Perkins also has presided over the prosecution of a major Democratic politician. When then-House Speaker Lewis failed to show up in court in 1991 on a misdemeanor ethics charge, Perkins had him jailed.

"Gib Lewis was a leading Democrat of the state at the time," said Austin criminal defense lawyer David Sheppard. "I don't know how more apolitical you can get. I'll just tell you, he's a really good judge."

Other than poor, misunderstood Gib Lewis, everyone else quoted in the piece has nice things to say about Perkins and his stewardship in the courtroom.

Also forgot to mention that the Statesman link to the Birnbaum/Schermbeck piece came from The Daily DeLay.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 20, 2005 to Scandalized! | TrackBack