Was Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle unlawfully present during the second grand jury's deliberations on Tom DeLay? DeLay's defense team thinks so - it has subpoenaed grand jurors to a Dec. 27 hearing on its motion to dismiss for prosecutorial misconduct:
State law prohibits prosecutors from attending grand jury deliberations, but the defense alleges that Earle unlawfully participated in the second grand jury's deliberations and tried to force those grand jurors to indict DeLay. Earle denies the allegations. Grand jury testimony is secret and Earle does not have to release transcripts unless he's ordered to by a court, so the defense has asked Senior Judge Pat Priest to allow the grand jurors to testify.
DeLay's lawyer, Dick Deguerin said he has other evidence and the grand jurors' testimony doesn't make or break the case, but it's very significant.
[Hat tip to Tom at Opinions You Should Have]
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The Judge in the Tom DeLay case dealt another setback to DeLay's attempt to get an early trial date, making it more and more unlikely he will be able to reclaim his House leadership position.
In a letter to DeLay's attorneys Wednesday, Senior Judge Pat Priest said he'll be working on other cases and won't be available until Dec. 27 to take up pending motions in DeLay's case stemming from a 2002 campaign finance scheme.
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It looks like Tom DeLay will not be able to regain his leadership position in the House in January. The judge in his Texas criminal case today refused to dismiss the money laundering charges against him. While the conspiracy charges were dismissed, DeLay now must stand trial, and it is unlikely the trial can be scheduled before the end of the year.
As to the dismissed charges:
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After a three hour hearing and ordering briefs from counsel, the Judge in the Tom DeLay case said a ruling would take about two weeks. He told DeLay's lawyers, who want an early trial, not to expect it will before January 1.
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On December 5, Dick Cheney is scheduled to speak at a big-time fundraiser for Tom DeLay's 2006 re-election campaign.
Some of the highest-ranking Republicans in Texas, including Gov. Rick Perry and Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, are serving as chairs of the fundraising event.
For $4,200, a donor gets an invitation to a VIP reception, a photograph with Cheney, and recognition at the event. For $2,100, attendees can rub elbows at a "congressional reception" and have their photo taken with DeLay. Regular tickets to the event cost $500.
DeLay returns to court in Houston Tuesday, for a hearing on his motions to dismiss the state indictment against him. Here are the issues he has raised:
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Tom DeLay has a new Democratic judge, Senior Judge Pat Priest. His lawyers have filed a motion to change venue out of Travis County, which they contend is too Democratic to be fair to DeLay, to Fort Bend county, where DeLay resides. The next court date will be November 22.
The brief filed by DeLay's lawyers said the role he played in dividing the county into three congressional districts during the 2003 congressional redistricting battle had made him "unpopular" in Travis County. He called Austin "one of the last enclaves of the Democratic Party in Texas."
The brief also said Austin media coverage of the investigation conducted by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle had been "unrelenting and highly unfavorable."
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I'm not sure why this is a big deal. Tom Delay reported on his House report (pdf) that he received $13,998.55 in travel expenses from Fox News for going to Washington to appear on Fox News Sunday after his indictment.
Networks always pay travel expenses for guests they fly in to do shows. It sounds like they chartered a flight for DeLay, which also is not surprising -- why would he want to face the public in airports and and on commercial planes right after his indictment?
Now, was it "officially related travel" as DeLay claims? I checked the transcript, and he did discuss offical House business (albeit marginally) in addition to attacking the Indictment against him.
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Two days after U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay won a fight to get a new judge in his case, prosecutors on Thursday succeeded in ousting the Republican jurist responsible for selecting the new judge. Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub recused himself after District Attorney Ronnie Earle filed a motion asking for his removal from the case.
DeLay succeeded in removing a judge who had donated more than $5,000 to Democratic campaigns. Earle discovered that Judge Schraub has contributed more than $5,000 to Republican candidates, including DeLay's friend, Gov. Rick Perry.
Schraub will ask the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court to name a judge to preside over DeLay's case. You can bet that both sides already know whether the chief justice has been a generous supporter of political campaigns.
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Houston lawyer Dick DeGuerin scored another win for Tom DeLay today. The judge who had donated to Democratic causes has been removed from the case.
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Unsurprisingly, Tom DeLay would prefer to have his case heard by a judge who votes for Republicans rather than Democrats. The judge assigned to DeLay's case donated money to MoveOn prior to the last election, a fact that DeLay seized upon to ask the judge to remove himself from the case.
DeLay's lawyer argued that MoveOn has been "selling T-shirts with Mr. DeLay's mug shot on it," an assertion that MoveOn denies. Will that tenuous connection between the judge and anti-DeLay sentiment be enough to convince the judge to take himself off the case? It doesn't sound like it.
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A letter from Tom DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, reveals that DeLay was offered the chance to plead guilty to a misdemeanor as an alternative to being indicted for a felony. The letter, which characterizes the offer as an attempt to coerce a plea from DeLay, accompanied a series of motions that DeGuerin filed in court. These include a motion for a speedy trial, a motion to dismiss the indictments for failure to allege wrongdoing by DeLay, and a motion seeking severance of DeLay's case from his co-defendants.'
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Attack ads have become commonplace in political races, but an attack ad against a prosecutor is unusual, to say the least.
A conservative group is running a TV ad likening the Democratic district attorney prosecuting House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to a vicious dog.
"A prosecutor with a political agenda can be vicious," the narrator says, while a snarling dog barks on screen.
The ads are in "heavy rotation" in Austin. Are DeLay's supporters hoping to taint the pool of potential jurors who may decide DeLay's fate?
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by Last Night in Little Rock
Apparently feeding off the breast milk of Tom DeLay, WSJ's John Fund was caught on MSNBC's Chris Matthews repeating DeLay's own "cherry picked" statistics of Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earl's track record of prosecuting public officials, as noted by MediaMatters.org:
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by Last Night in Little Rock
Rep. Tom DeLay's defense attorneys have subpoenaed DA Ronnie Earle and two assistants to testify concerning alleged improper contacts with the grand jurors that indicted DeLay as reported here in their effort to get the indictments dismissed. Earle and his assistants, however, refused the subpoena because they had not been issued by the court clerk, so defense counsel will have to get the clerk to issue the subpoena and do it again.
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by Last Night in Little Rock
Texas Lawyer published an article today, republished on Law.com, that Dick DeGuerin's entry into the DeLay case makes it far tougher for Ronnie Earle: DeLay Case Pits DA in Rematch Against Prominent Criminal Defense Lawyer.
The article discusses the dynamics between Earle's office and DeGuerin as defender in high-profile cases, keying on the 1994 prosecution of Kay Bailey Hutchinson, then the Texas state Treasurer, running for U.S. Senate. The Hutchinson case was dismissed on directed verdict.
The article also interviews lawyers who opine that the case appears thin.
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