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Texas Appeals Court Upholds DeLay Reversal

8-1 ruling, appeals court agrees with lower court findings

The highest criminal court in Texas has refused to reinstate two money-laundering convictions of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday upheld a ruling last year from the 3rd Court of Appeals that tossed DeLay’s 2010 convictions for money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Prosecutors argued in June before the Austin-based Court of Criminal Appeals that the convictions be reinstated.

But the appeals court said in its 8-1 ruling it agrees with the lower court findings, which said as a matter of law, what prosecutors proved in DeLay’s case did not constitute either offense.

Melissa Hamilton is a visiting criminal law scholar at the University of Houston Law Center. She expects legislators could look at how charges are handled in highly-political situations.

“These are political charges, and so we have a very politicized legislature post here in Texas and in a number of other states,” said Hamilton. “But it is, will be, or hopefully a conversation that legislators have on these kind of charges and how they apply to politics.”

“The fact that they did bring it and were willing to continue to appeal — it gives a signal to other politicians, you know ‘we’re not always going to be hands off.’ So it sends signals in both directions,” said Hamilton.

The charges were related to corporate donations to DeLay’s political action committee that prosecutors say were illegally funneled to some Texas House candidates in 2002.