And we have a new judge in the DeLay money laundering trial: Pat Priest.
A Democratic judge was named on Thursday to preside over the money-laundering and conspiracy case against U.S. Republican Rep. Tom DeLay in an appointment made by the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
Senior Judge Pat Priest of San Antonio will replace state District Judge Robert Perkins, who was forced off the case on Tuesday after DeLay's attorneys complained he was too staunchly Democratic to give their client a fair trial.
Priest was appointed by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, a Republican endorsed and aided by DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority, or TRMPAC, a political action committee at the center of the criminal charges.
Jefferson made the appointment after a Republican judge in a lower court, B.B. Schraub, recused himself earlier on Thursday after prosecutors charged he was too staunchly Republican to make a fair choice.
Priest was a respected judge in San Antonio for years, but no longer works full time on the bench.
UPDATE: Here's the latest.
"I don't know how this case landed on me," said Priest, 64, of San Antonio. "I hope it's because someone told them I'd be fair."
Priest said he has no idea how long he might last as presiding judge.
"You'll have to ask the lawyers in the case to see if they find me objectionable," he said.
DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin of Houston, said his first motion before Priest will be to ask him to move the trial from Travis County to DeLay's home of Fort Bend County.
DeGuerin said he did not think DeLay would find objectionable three $150 donations Priest had made to San Antonio Democratic state representatives last year. All three lawmakers were involved in a House walkout in 2003 that temporarily blocked DeLay's redistricting efforts.
Priest said he gave the money to the lawmakers because of an unusual situation in which judges who retired before him and after him received more pay. He said the lawmakers were "kind enough" to carry a bill to make his retirement pay the same as other judges.
Though officially retired, Priest remains active as a judge and said he is a Democrat.
Last month in Dallas, Priest took over for a judge who was removed in a criminal case because prosecutors claimed he was favoring the defendant.
In 2000, he presided over the corruption trials of county officials in Karnes and Atascosa county accused of stealing from their governments. He sentenced both to prison.
Priest's most high-profile case was in 1990 when he ordered a San Antonio TV reporter jailed for six months for refusing to comply with his order to turn over notes in a capital murder case.
Priest was elected as a district judge in 1980 and remained on the bench until he ran for the 4th Court of Appeals in 1994. He lost the Democratic primary to an opponent who accused him of being "soft on crime" for reducing the $1 million bail set for two murder defendants by another judge.
Since then, he has served as a senior judge, handling cases that are assigned to him by an administrative judge.