Thursday, September 19, 2013

Former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay Wins Appeal

[Tom DeLay's photo from "Dancing With the Stars" from wikipedia]
Did you hear the news? According to various news reports, a Texas appellate court has set aside the money laundering conviction of former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay. You may recall that DeLay had been convicted of allegedly funneling $190,000 in corporate contributions through his political action committee to various local state Republican candidates. Texas law generally forbids corporate contributions to state candidates. But Texas law also requires that, as an essential element, in order for it to be money laundering, the funds in question must, in fact, be illegally obtained funds.

In setting aside DeLay's conviction, the two-one court majority found that the State had failed to prove that the money which DeLay donated to the local candidates was, in fact, tainted money.

This case illustrates the point that prosecutors must be sure that they can prove each and every element of a criminal charge BEFORE seeking an indictment. As a former federal prosecutor, I faced the same challenge on each federal indictment I sought.

Naturally, DeLay is reportedly elated over the appellate court's decision. It remains to be seen whether or not the district attorney will appeal to the highest Texas appellate court. But one can only hope, in my opinion, that they will get their ducks in a row before proceeding any further on such a questionable course. In my opinion, this was a rank, ill-advised political prosecution from the beginning. The appellate court's finding certainly supports that conclusion!  What do you think?

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