The Texas Tribune reports that Tom DeLay, the former US House Majority Leader who fell from grace in a money laundering scandal seven years ago, has finally seen his conviction overturned by Texas’ 3rd Court of Appeals.
Federal investigations into DeLay’s unsavory dealings, particularly with lobbyist Jack Abramoff (who served four years in Federal Prison), led to his indictment and resignation from Congress in 2006. The case was a huge victory for the lonely Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s office, then led by Ronnie Earle. They prosecuted the case, which eventually led to a 2010 conviction by a Travis County jury for money laundering.
Today, a three judge panel of the 3rd Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 (also the partisan composition of the court) that the State was not able to prove that the money allegedly laundered had come from an illegal source. Melissa Goodwin, writing for the two justice majority, wrote:
“Based on the totality of the evidence, we conclude that the evidence presented does not support a conclusion that DeLay committed the crimes that were charged…The fundamental problem with the State’s case was its failure to prove proceeds of criminal activity.”
Justice Woodfin Jones, the lone Democrat on the panel, begged to disagree. He saw judicial activism at play in overturning the will of 12 Travis County jurors for insufficient reasoning.
Prosecutors from the Travis County DA mentioned that they would appeal the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. However, given the partisan composition of that body, the chances of a reversal are somewhat low. It looks like DeLay will get away with all his deeds.
Burnt Orange Report has more.