The man has been a boon for the defense bar, I’ll say that much for him.
Tom DeLay’s appellate lawyer tapped a movie musical and Shakespeare in a wide-ranging appeal that argues the former U.S. House majority leader was wrongly convicted of conspiring to launder corporate dollars into campaign donations.
In 2002, DeLay’s political committee sent a $190,000 corporate check to the Republican National Committee that, in turn, agreed to donate the same amount from its noncorporate account to Texas candidates. State law prohibits corporate donations to candidates.
The monthlong trial before a Travis County jury last fall turned on the question: Were DeLay and his co-defendants laundering corporate money, or making the kind of “money swaps” both parties had done in the past?
To sum up the legal points in Houston lawyer Brian Wice’s appeal: DeLay didn’t do anything as part of a conspiracy. If he did, it wasn’t a crime. If it was, he couldn’t have known it was a crime. And, besides, the ban against corporate donations is a constitutional infringement on free speech.
Wice also requested a hearing to explain it all.
Judge Pat Priest, a visiting judge from San Antonio, sentenced the Sugar Land Republican, who was once one of the most powerful leaders in Washington D.C., to three years in prison. DeLay remains free pending an appeal that could take months, if not years. Prosecutors have weeks to respond to the brief filed late Thursday.
I should note that convicted felon Tom DeLay had previously filed a motion for a new trial. I have no idea what the status of that is. Also, Judge Priest had previously recused himself from the trial of DeLay’s cronies Jim Ellis and John Colyandro. A new judge has been named, but I have no idea when that trial may get underway. We may all be dead from old age by the time this finally gets adjudicated.
I have to say, DeLay has good taste in attorneys. He had Dick DeGuerin at trial, and Brian Wice is one of the top guys for appeals. As the story notes, he has a decent chance of winning thanks to the ridiculous “checks aren’t cash” ruling the Third Court of Appeals made a few years ago, for which it later received a spanking from the Court of Criminal Appeals. I had never expected DeLay to be found guilty in the first place, so even if he is ultimately freed the fact that I have been able to refer to him as “convicted felon Tom DeLay” in the interim will still have been sweet. And he’ll always be a convicted felon to me, no matter what the courts ultimately say.