DeLay asks Texas judge to throw out conspiracy charges

[JURIST] US Rep. Tom DeLay [official website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday asked a Texas judge to dismiss the felony conspiracy charges against him. Senior Judge Pat Priest refused to make an immediate ruling on the case, saying he wanted to read the briefs from both parties before ruling on the pre-trial matter. Prosecutors argue that DeLay and his co-defendants solicited $600,000 from Texas corporate donors, which was sent to the Republican National Committee, but then arranged for $190,000 to be sent back to seven Texas legislative candidates' campaign funds. Under Chapter 253 of Texas state law [PDF text], it is a felony to use any corporate money in political campaigns, except for administrative costs. DeLay's attorneys argued Tuesday that he can not properly be charged with conspiracy to violate the Texas law because the law was not on the books until 2003, the year after DeLay's alleged offenses occurred. Prosecutor Rick Reed vigorously disputed that claim, arguing that the Texas legislature [official website] merely clarified the law in 2003, and state law has long defined conspiracy as an agreement to commit any felony. The Houston Chronicle has more.

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 Text: Criminal conspiracy indictment | Op-ed: Tom DeLay's Challenge to Texas Grand Jury Process

6:45 PM ET - Judge Pat Priest, who is presiding over the case, has indicated that he will not rule on DeLay's motion to dismiss the charges for two weeks. Priest, newly assigned to the case [JURIST report] after the previous judge was dismissed following a challenge by DeLay, said that if he does not dismiss the charges against DeLay, he is not likely to hold a trial in the case until next year. Reuters has more.


 

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