Wednesday, October 12, 2005

DeLay Gives Prosecutor Subpoena of His Own

In a very interesting turn on the House Majority Leader DeLay's indictment, a subpoena was served to Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle. DeLay, the target of a several-years-long investigation, is now asking why the prosecutor going after him is allowed to get away with onerous behavior.

Ronnie Earle is the district attorney of Travis County, Texas, who has been investigating fundraising from a committee founded by Mr. DeLay to elect a Republican majority in the Texas House and Senate that would, in turn, redraw the lines for Texas's congressional districts, padding the Republican majority in Congress.

While this is certainly not an activity we should promote as good for democracy, it isn't necessarily criminal. Donations from Texas corporations to the National Party are allowed, and the Republican National Committee can donate to state races, especially for as bold a plan as giving Republicans more seats in Congress. It's a lot like the judicial filibuster: it's self-evidently wrong, but still within the parliamentary rules.

As Radar has explained here, Earle is being questioned himself about his all-out legal war on Tom DeLay. In felony cases, a prosecutor first has to convince a jury that there is a reasonable amount of evidence against a defendant before a case can be tried and evidence can be subpoenaed. The burden of proof is intentionally set very low: you don't have to show probably cause, no criminal intent, or "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt". It's just 'is there any evidence that this case should be allowed to go to the next level?'

So when it took three grand juries in less than a week to get one that would allow the case to continue, it certainly looks suspicious. There are rumors that the prosecutor was asking juries that failed to indict what he could have said differently or presented to change their minds. This would not be permitted under any other situation, and if it's true, DeLay's lawyers are right in calling the D.A. out on his barren ethical standards. It's too bad he's retiring and isn't hurt by the threat of being disbarred in the state of Texas. As I said here in the comments, even Ronnie's friends aren't predicting this will go well for him. The question now is if it will even get to trial.

Here's the AP article and here is a more thorough rundown for subscribers to the WSJ.


I hope you are all boycotting the NYT. I've found strong (yet predictable) opposition to their TimesSelect b.s. and agree their whole site should be starved for ad revenue. Although it's great that toxic watse from Paul Krugman is seeping into millions of fewer households, they certainly don't have a monopoly on knowledge and shouldn't get away with a $50 fee. I'll post a list of my favorite professional columnists soon.

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