The Houston Chronicle's R.G. Ratcliffe writes up a preview of the court hearing tomorrow. DeLay's lawyers are trying to get the case dismissed:
The core issue before visiting Judge Pat Priest on Tuesday will be whether the crimes DeLay is accused of committing were actually crimes in 2002 when they allegedly occurred.
They say criminal conspiracy did not apply to the election code until 2003 and that checks were not covered by the state's money-laundering laws until this year. All the activities in this case occurred in 2002.
But Earle also argued that the conspiracy statute applied to any felony in 2002, including those of the election code. Earle said the original conspiracy law was written when there was no separate election code and election law violations were included in the penal code.
"Clearly, as of 1907, the offense of criminal conspiracy covered a conspiracy to commit the felony offense of unlawfully making a corporate political contribution," Earle's brief said.
The first judge in the case, state District Judge Bob Perkins of Austin, agreed with Earle and let the indictment stand. That is one of the reasons it was important for DeGuerin to have Perkins removed from hearing DeLay's case.
We'll see what Judge Pat Priest does with these arguments. Seems to me that a crime is a crime is a crime, whether it's part of the election code or penal code, and that conspiracy charges ought to apply to all felonies regardless of whether they are committed in elections or elsewhere.
What might hurt Earle, though, is that it wasn't just anyone who asked for a clarification of the conspiracy statutes, which led to the 2003 new law that applied conspiracy to the election code. It was the Texas District Attorneys Association. That said, lawmakers pass extraneous and unnecessary laws all the time, some [gasp] to make themselves look good.