January 09, 2006
CCA denies DeLay

Poor Tom. Even the all-Republican Texas Court of Criminal Appeals doesn't love him.

Texas' highest criminal court today rejected U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's request to throw out criminal indictments against him or order an immediate trial on a charge of money laundering.


DeLay originally was indicted in September on charges of conspiring to violate the state election code. Under House Republican caucus rules, he had to immediately step aside as majority leader.

He was reindicted in October on charges of conspiring to violate the election code, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.


Senior District Judge Pat Priest in December threw out the charges involving the election code, but he let stand the money laundering charges.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle then appealed Priest's ruling to the Third Court of Appeals, and Priest stayed further proceedings in DeLay's criminal case until that appeal was decided.

DeLay's lawyers asked the Court of Criminal Appeals to intercede, accusing Earle of appealing Priest's ruling just to keep DeLay from coming to trial in January. Exoneration at a January trial had been considered to be his best shot at regaining the leadership position.

So the only remaining appeal at this time is the one by prosecutors over the dismissal of the one election law charge. I presume whatever the ruling is there, the losing side can take it to the CCA, so we could still be looking at a couple of months before the trial.

Or maybe not. Here's a little food for thought.

DeLay, who denies wrongdoing, had been trying to rush to trial in Texas in hopes of clearing his name and regaining the [House Majority Leader] position. His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said they will continue to push for a quick trial because DeLay faces opposition in the March Republican primary.

"We'd like to get it over with before then, but it's not as crucial as it would have been if he were still in the running for his leadership post," DeGuerin said.

But DeLay's decision to abandon the powerful position in no way lessens his desire to clear his name, DeGuerin said.

"Tom DeLay's not going to plead guilty to anything, even spitting on the sidewalk," he said.

So maybe DeLay's a little worried about having this hanging over his head for the GOP primary. I know that two of DeLay's Republican challengers will go after him on this, but neither Pat Baig nor Mike Fjetland is taken seriously by the establishment, and neither has the base nor the money to make much of a ruckus. The one I don't know about is Tom Campbell. Assuming he has the money to mount a vigorous campaign, what's his strategy? Head-on attack, or high-minded idealism? If this blog post is the last you hear of any of this, I'd assume Campbell's got nothing in his arsenal, and thus his strategy is irrelevant. We'll see.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 09, 2006 to Scandalized! | TrackBack