Tom DeLay Jury Selected

After 8 hours of questioning 91 potential jurors, jury selection was completed in the money laundering trial of former House Speaker Tom DeLay. There are six women and six men.

Nobody wanted to be seen as a Republican. The prosecutor said:

Mr. DeLay is a Republican. I'm a Democrat. This case has nothing to do with that. All that matters is, 'Can you put political feelings you may have (aside) and give both sides a fair trial?'"

DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said:

"It's not about whether you like Tom DeLay. I'm a Democrat and I like him," DeGuerin told potential jurors. "That's all we want: a fair jury and a fair trial."


The prosecutor invoked the Simpsons to explain what the case was about:

In Cobb's [hypothetical]example, Mr. Burns, the evil billionaire on the show, illegally gives money to politicians so he can expand his nuclear power plant.

Cobb, an African American, complained to the Judge that DeGuerin struck too many African-Americans from the panel. DeGuerin responded that three of those he struck had given him dirty looks after he objected to statements by the prosecutor.

Visiting Judge Pat Priest settled the argument by striking another juror and seating a black woman who had laughed and joked with DeGuerin when he had questioned her.

Only one juror said he couldn't be fair because DeLay was a Republican. A few only recognized DeLay from his Dancing With the Stars days.

Three women said they only recognized DeLay from his recent appearance on the television show Dancing With the Stars. One said he should not have appeared on the program because "he is a bad dancer."

DeGuerin's concern was whether predominantly Democratic Travis County could be fair to Tom DeLay:

DeGuerin said he grew up in Austin and knows "it is the most political town in Texas, if not the United States."

After a spat between the lawyers over comments Cobb made about the severed co-defendants,

One of the potential jurors turned to another and said, "They've already got the gloves off."

The issues seem pretty straight-forward. The state says DeLay engaged in money laundering and the defense says what he did is not a crime:

DeLay and two associates, Jim Ellis and John Colyandro, raised $190,000 in corporate money that could not be used in candidate elections and traded it with the Republican National Committee for a like amount of money for 11 Texas Republican candidates.

Travis County prosecutors say it amounted to money laundering, but DeGuerin contends it was a legal transaction because the prohibited money and the individual money never were commingled. He contends that the Texas code defines laundered money only as money gained as the "proceeds of criminal activity", and that misuse of corporate donations, even if proven, cannot amount to money laundering.

What got so many Democrats in Texas riled up: The money raised by Texans for a Republican Majority (created by DeLay) was traded to the Republican National Committee to help Texas House Republicans in the 2002 election. Republicans won the majority in the Texas House that year, which gave them control of both houses, and the next year they proceeded to redistrict parts of the state to favor Republicans. Tom DeLay was instrumental in drafting the plan for the new districts and pushing it through the state legislature. With the new districts in place, Republicans retained control in the 2004 elections. The Demcocrats said the plan amounted the gerrymandering. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the plan.

DeLay was initially also charged with conspiracy to violate election laws but that count was dismissed by the Judge during the pre-trial motions phase. That leaves one charge of money laundering and one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The principal issue (as I understand it) is: Texas law prohibits corporate contributions in state legislative races. Did DeLay commit the crime of money laundering by having TRMPAC raise corporate funds, and then instead of providing the money directly to Republican candidates, which clearly wasn't allowed, directing the money to go to the Republican National Committee, which then gave the money to the candidates?

Sounds pretty hyper-technical to me, from a legal standpoint. From a political standpoint, it sounds like sleazy, dirty politics, and if I were a Texas Democrat, I'd be very angry.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Uh, Dick, you're wrong. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Angel on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 08:17:26 AM EST
    ....DeGuerin said he grew up in Austin and knows "it is the most political town in Texas, if not the United States."

    The most political town in Texas?  Probably. The most political town in the US? Total BS.  I live here, and Dick grew up here about forty years ago.  Austin and Travis County are not the Democratic strongholds they once were.  I'd be willing to bet the jury split is 50/50.

    DeLay is g.u.i.l.t.y.  

    "You're excused". (none / 0) (#2)
    by lentinel on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 08:31:15 AM EST
    "It's not about whether you like Tom DeLay. I'm a Democrat and I like him," DeGuerin told potential jurors.

    I'm more or less a Democrat, and I not only don't like DeLay, I find him reprehensible and even contemptible. When I see his picture, I feel a bit upset in the stomach.

    I guess I'm not exactly what DeGuerin's looking for in a juror.

    The only thing he's looking for in a juror is (none / 0) (#3)
    by Angel on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 08:40:18 AM EST
    someone who will buy DeLay's lies and BS and acquit him.  

    Brings to mind something (none / 0) (#4)
    by scribe on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 09:11:15 AM EST
    a Texan client and his Texas lawyer used to say:  "we'll give him a fair trial in the morning and take him out back and hang him in the afternoon."

    Needs be remembered, back in the day, all the chicanery DeLay put into the historical record.  IIRC, one of his achievements was being behind the very money-laundering statute he's being prosecuted under.

    And, I'm guessing the prosecutor and judge are not carrying on an affair.  This isn't a capital case, after all, where such would pass muster with the Texas appellate courts and SCOTUS.

    Dancing with the prosecutor in front of the jury (none / 0) (#5)
    by Saul on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 09:38:01 AM EST
    Delay is going to be doing a different dance than he did with Dancing With The Stars.  It called the tighten up.  The prosecutor will be doing the tightening and he will be doing the dancing.

    Never did like Delay and his political shenanigans, especially that smile like nothing bad could touch him and was immune  from being convicted.   We will see what we will see.

    forgot to add (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 09:44:11 AM EST
    that Texas allows jury sentencing. One article I read said DeLay has already opted to be sentenced by the judge instead of the jury if convicted

    Have to wonder why that might be... (none / 0) (#7)
    by scribe on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:04:41 AM EST
    not trusting the people to pass sentence on him....

    i'm a democrat, (none / 0) (#10)
    by cpinva on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 06:24:12 AM EST
    and i have not like mr. delay ever since i became cognizent of his existence. true, i don't care for his political and ideological positions, but that isn't why i dislike him as a person, i just find him to be about an 11, on the 1-10 creep-o-meter scale.