Trials Proceedings Begin for Tom DeLay

Former Congressman Tom Delay is about to go to trial for charges brought against him five years ago.
A pre-trial hearing tomorrow in Travis County will address several motions made by the defense. Laurie Johnson reports.

Long before his Dancing with the Stars debut, Tom DeLay was known as one of the most powerful Republicans in the nation. The congressman from SugarLand served as the House Majority Leader and was often called the “Hammer” because of his forceful power in office.

But that all changed in 2005, when DeLay was charged with money laundering and violations of state campaign finance laws in the 2002 election.

Five years later, he’s about to go to trial, but not without a fight. Associate Professor Adam Gershowitz with the
University of Houston Law Center says DeLay’s attorneys filed a motion to have the trial dismissed.

“He seems to have the argument that the prosecutor abused the grand jury process he went to multiple grand juries to find one to do what he wanted to do and go ahead and indict him on multiple charges. And that is, in fact, unusual. Typically a prosecutor brings a case to a grand jury and if the grand jury says no, that’s usually the end of it.”

However, Ronnie Earle, who was Travis County’s District Attorney at the time, had the legal authority to shop around for the indictment he was looking for.

“For DeLay it’s a very weak legal argument because prosecutors, even though it’s unusual, have authority to go to the grand jury multiple times and to go to multiple grand juries to ask for an indictment. And the fact that they were turned down once doesn’t forbid them from going a second time. So although it may seem unusual, it’s not actually prohibited.”

DeLay’s defense also filed a motion to have the trial’s venue changed, possibly to San Antonio or Waco. They allege the intense media scrutiny along with Travis County’s strong Democratic leanings will make it impossible for DeLay to get a fair trial in Austin.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF News.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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