DeLay gets off


Do YOU feel safe with me out on the streets?

Former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay’s political money laundering conviction was overturned by the state’s 3rd Court of Appeals on Thursday.

“Based on the totality of the evidence, we conclude that the evidence presented does not support a conclusion that DeLay committed the crimes that were charged,” the judges ruled. “The fundamental problem with the State’s case was its failure to prove proceeds of criminal activity.”

The decision reversed DeLay’s trial court conviction.


Two of the three appellate judges said the state failed to prove that the money being laundered was the result of any criminal activity. In a dissent, Justice J. Woodfin Jones disagreed on that point, saying the money came from illegal corporate contributions. “A rational juror hearing the evidence presented in this trial could have found that the relevant corporate contributions… were made with the intent that they be used to support individual candidates or be put to other purposes not authorized” by law, he wrote.

You can read the majority opinion here and the dissent here. If you believe this decision was influenced by politics, you will be unhappy to learn that Justice Woodie Jones, the only Democrat currently on the 3rd Court of Appeals, is not running for re-election next year. Personally, I’m shaking my head at the fact that DeLay’s appeal has vindicated the ridiculous checks aren’t cash argument. The good news is that DeLay’s win might be short-lived.

However, Thursday’s victory for DeLay does not end the long-running case _ dating back to the 2002 elections _ because Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg promised to appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

“We are absolutely going to appeal it,” she said. “We strongly disagree with the opinion.”

Lehmberg, a Democrat, said she was particularly concerned that two appellate justices substituted their judgment on the facts of the case that twelve jurors heard for weeks.

The CCA has previously swatted down the “checks aren’t cash” defense, making it one of the few times that its rabid pro-prosecutor bias was applied for a good purpose. We’ll see if history repeats itself. In the meantime, gird your loins for DeLay’s victory lap/comeback tour, which is sure to be every bit as ugly as his appearance on “Dancing With The Stars” was. BOR, Juanita, Texpatriate, Political Animal, and Burka have more.

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One Response to DeLay gets off

  1. kramartini says:

    The “checks aren’t cash” argument played no role in the appeals court decision.

    You should have read the opinion more carefully…

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