Score one for Team DeLay.
A state appeals court Monday gave U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay a legal and public relations victory by throwing out more than 30 subpoenas issued by Travis County prosecutors investigating the Sugar Land Republican’s political finance activities.
The Third Court of Appeals said the subpoenas issued by District Attorney Ronnie Earle after a senior district judge stayed proceedings in the criminal case against DeLay in December are “null and void.”
Most of the subpoenas concerned political fundraising controversies involving DeLay, some dating back to 1996.
DeLay’s legal team has been insisting that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle was issuing the subpoenas only to create bad publicity for the former U.S. House majority leader. They had asked the appeals court to quash the subpoenas.
Assistant Travis County District Attorney Bryan Case said the subpoenas were intended to do nothing more than get ready for a speedy trial once appeals are done on a pretrial ruling.
“We’ve issued these subpoenas in order to be ready for trial in a timely manner,” Case said. “We have great respect for the court’s ruling and we will, of course, abide by it.”
Earle has been issuing the subpoenas ever since Senior District Judge Pat Priest dismissed all or part of three indictments against DeLay. Earle appealed Priest’s December ruling, and the judge stayed the case pending a ruling by the Third Court of Appeals.
The panel, which is scheduled to hear Earle’s appeal on March 22, said Earle may not issue any more subpoenas while the stay is in effect; ruled all the ones issued after the stay are “null and void;” and any subpoenas issued before the stay are suspended while the appeal is pending.
If I read that correctly (and remember, I Am Not A Lawyer), I think that means that Earle can pick up where he left off once the Third Court of Appeals rules on Judge Priest’s dismissal of the conspiracy charges against DeLay. I certainly hope Earle considers the information that he’s seeking here to be merely supportive of his case against DeLay and not critical to it. If he didn’t have enough evidence to have a chance of convicting him when he secured the indictments, no subpoenas are likely to save his butt now.
With all the fronts in the DeLay Scandal-Go-Round, any good news he gets is almost always accompanied by some not so good news elsewhere, for DeLay and/or one of his good buddies (links via The Stakeholder. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? You may note, by the way, that the Daily DeLay blog has a new home, so update those bookmarks and RSS feeds.