Lake Erie Conservative

thoughtful discussion(s) about issue(s)

… Calling Ronnie Earle to Account …

Posted by paulfromwloh on Saturday,September 21st,2013

.. Ronnie Earle is , of course , the infamous former prosecutor of Harris County , Texas . Harris County in Texas is , to the uninitiated , the county where the metropolitain area where the city of Houston is located .

.. Earle became the bete noir of conservatives for going after former House majority leader Thomas Delay in his money

English: Former Travis County DA Ronnie Earle ...

English: Former Travis County DA Ronnie Earle speaks at a panel on ethics and government at Netroots Nation in Austin, Texas in July, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

laundering and corruption trial . Delay was eventually found guilty at trial , and was sentenced to 3 years in jail . However , the sentence was stayed , pending appeal . And , now , basicallly , Delay has been cleared by an appeallate court in Texas . Even if prosecutors in either Travis County [Austin , the state capitol] or Harris County [Houston] wanted to retry Delay , they cannot . The finding by the appeals court means double jeopardy has attached . No criminal retrial is possible , at all .

.. The directed finding by an appeallate court is rare , in any state . The decision to try or not to try a potential defendant is made by a prosecutor . When a judge , an Appeals Court , or a Supreme Court enter into the process , it is a very big deal . They are taking action , usually either because there is insufficiency of the evidence , or that there has be prosecutorial misconduct . It is usually one or the other . it is even more rare for both to be present . In the case with Ronnie Earle , Oh Boy , is it ever present …

For those who may have forgotten these long-ago events, Mr. DeLay was first accused by Mr. Earle, the chief prosecutor of Travis County, Texas, of conspiring to violate Texas campaign laws. That indictment immediately was challenged because, even if there had been sufficient evidence of wrongdoing — which there emphatically was not — it would have necessitated prosecuting Mr. DeLay for violating a law that had not yet been passed at the time he was alleged to have broken it, a clear violation of the constitutional ban on ex post facto prosecution. Knowing that his indictment was doomed, Mr. Earle scrambled to convene a new grand jury in order to secure additional charges. The second grand jury refused to cooperate and rejected Mr. Earle’s plea for a second indictment, issuing what is called a “no bill,” meaning a formal refusal to indict based on the evidence presented. Under normal Texas procedure, a no-bill document is made public on the day it is issued; Mr. Earle schemed to keep the grand jury’s rejection of his case secret until he could convene yet another grand jury. He found a brand-new one that had just been seated and, with the statute of limitations hanging over his head, wrung out of them indictments on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering after only a few hours of presenting his evidence. The refusal of the second grand jury to indict was kept secret until the third grand jury had done so. Mr. DeLay’s attorneys filed a formal complaint of prosecutorial misconduct, including the use of coercive and misleading measures in the matter of the third grand jury.

.. To charge Mr. DeLay with money laundering and conspiracy to commit same was a desperate maneuver never destined to stand up to final judgment. That is because to be guilty of money laundering, one must be guilty of producing the money in question through some prior felony offense. There was never any serious evidence that Mr. DeLay had done so. His alleged wrongdoing under campaign-finance laws consisted of using corporate “soft money” donations to offset “hard money” campaign donations in order to circumvent the Texas law prohibiting direct corporate contributions to political candidates. Never mind that Mr. DeLay was never convicted of any such offense — indeed, never mind that such an offense is not criminal — there was never any evidence that he had even come close to committing such a violation. The court had just thrown our Mr. Earle’s first indictment alleging that he had. That act itself should have eliminated any trial whatsoever , including the possibility of another indictment . It is the definition of double jeopardy .

.. Delay ‘ s conviction was a product of judicial incompetence at the trial-court level . It was also attested to by Justice Goodwin’s opinion. The jury, justifiably confused about how Mr. DeLay could be convicted of money laundering without an underlying crime producing dirty money to be laundered, sent the judge a question: “Can it constitute money laundering if the money wasn’t procured by illegal means originally?” Justice Goodwin again: “The proper answer to the question is ‘no.’ The jury’s question about the law was not answered, however.” Which is to say, the judge refused to answer an explicit jury inquiry about the fundamental legal question at stake in the case.

.. Judges are generally not required to answer questions all that often . However , when the needs of justice demand it , and the rights of the defendant are at stake , a judge should answer a jury ‘ s question . In the Delay case , the jury asked an explicit question about the law at question in the case . The jury itself was confused . The judge should have acted to clear up the confusion He did not . Doing so denied Delay the bounds of fundamental procedural due process .

.. Earle, who was hot off an earlier failed attempt to use his office to engage in a similar political persecution of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, promptly put Mr. DeLay’s scalp at the end of his lance and began considering a run for governor or attorney general. In the event, he would run for lieutenant governor and be defeated in the Democratic primary. He has since lapsed into well-deserved obscurity. Not quite yet . He yet needs to be called to account .

.. Tom Delay is not a criminal. On the other hand, his defense team’s complaint alleging criminal misconduct on the part of Mr. Earle is persuasive. Unhappily, the same Democratic single-party rule in Travis County (Austin and environs) that allowed Mr. Earle’s circus of a case against Tom DeLay to proceed in the first place ensured that he was never held to account for his gross and shameful abuse of the public trust.

.. You want a prosecutor to carry out their job , without little fear of retribution . Where there is fear of retribution is where it should be , is in the violation of the civil rights or the due process rights of the defendant and / or the defence . In Delay ‘ s case , it was both . Earle must be called to account for his actions . He has committed misconduct in office , gross abuses of power , and other offenses . Which ones remain to be determined . But they do need to be investigated , and thoroughly .

.. Also , either Delay ‘ s defence team or the State of Texas should file a Civil Rights complaint with the relevant U.S. Attorney . There is next to no hope that the Department of InJustice in Washington , D.C. will treat Delay fairly . There is at least some hope that if it is done either in Texas , or is done with the U.S.Attorney in D.C. (under the supervision of the D.C. courts) , the ability of Main InJustice to play around with the case can be minized ..

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