Lake Erie Conservative

thoughtful discussion(s) about issue(s)

Posts Tagged ‘Travis County’

… 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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… Tom Delay is Vindicated , While the State of Texas is Shamed …

Posted by paulfromwloh on Saturday,September 21st,2013

.. It is a scandal that there has been and will be no serious jail time in the matter of former Republican majority leader Tom DeLay — not obviously for Delay , but for Ronnie Earle, the hyperpartisan Democratic prosecutor whose risible case against DeLay has just been finally thrown out by the Third District Texas Court of Appeals, richly deserves to be measured for an all-orange wardrobe. After eleven years, the matter of Mr. DeLay’s fund-raising in the 2002 election cycle has been finally put to rest, with Mr. Earle’s case having been vivisected by Justice Melissa Goodwin, who in her quietly scathing opinion did not bother even to consider six of the eight points raised by Mr. DeLay’s defense, finding the first two sufficient to snuff out what is in theory a prosecution but is in fact a persecution.

.. 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

Tom DeLay, former member of the United States ...

Tom DeLay, former member of the United States House of Representatives. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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. Mr. DeLay did not earn his nickname, “The Hammer,” for being a nice guy, but the attempt of Texas Democrats to criminalize politics, and the decade-plus persecution of Mr. DeLay that resulted from it, is an act of corruption in the most literal sense of that word, eroding the legal and political institutions that enable democratic self-rule in a constitutional republic. Mr. DeLay has cause to celebrate today, but for the rest of us this matter, even though properly resolved at last, is a cause for nothing but shame.

.. the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Attorney General ‘ s office need to investigate this entire proceeding . Tom Delay is from Houston . How this case was transferred from Harris County (where the case should have been judged) to Travis County (where it was ultimately adjudicated) is the height of outrageous . Delay deserved a jury of his peers . In Travis County , he did not get them . Also , the conduct of Ronnie Earle needs to be thoroughly investigated . No matter where he may be , Earle needs to be held to account for his actions . Also , it needs to be handled at the state level . That way , no prosecutor who has any designs of repeating Earle ‘ s exercise will be made to think twice . Once Earle is hauled before the dock , prosecutors will understand their offices and their powers theirin are not a hunting license to go after political enemies with a free range license to destroy them .

.. If someone has indeed committed a crime , then evaluate the case . Then , only after the decision , then go after the person . But  , not because they are an enemy . It is because they may well have committed a crime , and deserve to be brought to account before the bar of  Jusice . It is clear that Delay was not a criminal , did not commit a crime , and the law he was accused of breaking was not a law at the time he was accused of breaking it . Only in rare circumstances should a prosecutor be hauled into the dock . If they have done what Ronnie Earle did , then they deserve to be .

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… Tom Delay : Cleared !! [Excellent !] …

Posted by paulfromwloh on Saturday,September 21st,2013

.. Tom Delay got the relief that he was seeking from Texas . The 3rd Circuit Texas Court of Appeals body – slammed the prosecution of Delay in its opinion …

LEC here — Appeals Courts and Supreme Courts generally do not enter in and order acquitals . When they do so , it is a very , very big thing …

.. Their usual modus operandi is to overturn the conviction . The basis that they use to overturn the conviction is then evaluated

Tom Delay

Tom Delay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by the relevent prosecutor ‘ s office . It is that office that then makes the decision on whether or not to retry an offender . When a court takes that decision away , it means to me that the prosecutor and his or her office has really , really screwed up . The court has to act to step in to guarantee that the prosecutor does not go off on another fishing expedition in a criminal prosecution …

[h/t — hotair.com]
Appeals court overturns DeLay conviction, acquits him

posted at 12:01 pm on September 19, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

For the second time in the last few years, a high-profile corruption prosecution against a Republican member of Congress has collapsed. This time, it’s Tom DeLay that gets to celebrate, as an appeals court not only overturned his conviction but ordered an acquittal:

A Texas appeals court has overturned the money laundering conviction of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 ruling on Thursday that DeLay had been acquitted. DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison, but his sentence was on hold while his case made its way through the appellate process. …

In Thursday’s tom-delay-appeal-doc, the judges wrote “we reverse the judgments of the trial court and render judgments of acquittal.”

Unless the state appeals the ruling, this means that DeLay cannot be retried on the charges. The court could have ordered a new trial if it restrained its scope to just procedural issues. However, the court apparently believed that the prosecution simply couldn’t make a case for wrongdoing, and as a result took the relatively rare step of overturning a jury’s findings on guilt.

Their opinion makes it clear that the court had little regard for the state’s case:

Given the testimony of the corporate representatives and the undisputed facts that the corporations could lawfully make donations to TRMPAC and TRMPAC could lawfully transfer the corporate funds out of state, the State failed to prove the “applicable culpable mental states” for the donating corporations to support a finding of criminal intent by the corporations. See Ex parte Ellis, 309 S.W.3d at 90. 1

To support its position that the majority of corporate contributions violated the Election Code by not expressly designating a lawful use of their donations to TRMPAC, the State focuses on the following clause from the opinion in Ex parte Ellis: “there is no such thing as a legal undesignated corporate political contribution.” Id. at 88. We believe that the State takes this clause out of context. In that case, the court was addressing constitutional challenges to the Election Code. The clause cited by the State was made during the court’s examination of section 253.100, the section of the Election Code addressing the establishment of a general-purpose committee by a corporation and in response to a possible suggestion made by this Court. …

The State’s primary argument at trial was that the Election Code violation that generated criminal proceeds was the “agreement” between DeLay and others to the combined transfers of funds, i.e., the money swap of soft money for hard money. The State argued in its final argument: “[T]he moment that the decision was made to send the soft dollar check up to Washington D.C. with the intent that it ultimately go to candidates for elective office is the moment that this money became proceeds of criminal activity.” Relying on the use of the word “indirect” 13 in the Election and Penal Code statutes at issue, the State argues that the “agreement” to the combined transactions itself was an illegal contribution and thus the corporate funds sitting in TRMPAC’s bank account at the moment of the agreement became the proceeds of criminal activity. See Tex. Elec. Code § 251.001(2) (defining “contribution” to include “indirect transfer of money” and “agreement . . . to make a transfer”). However, the State fails to explain how the funds already in the bank account resulted from the subsequent money-swap agreement. See Tex. Penal Code § 34.01(4) (defining “proceeds” to include “funds acquired or derived directly or indirectly from, produced through, or realized through . . . an act”). Further, to support this argument, the State disregards the distinction between soft and hard money accounts as irrelevant, arguing: “The fact that the funds were not commingled is simply irrelevant in light of the explicit one-for-one exchange which was negotiated in this case.” But in the context of the campaign finance regulations, maintaining separate, segregated bank accounts for soft and hard money is recognized and accepted as legitimate.

The court also attacked the core of the case, the alleged conspiracy to violate election law, emphasis mine:

We also question the validity of the State’s “agreement” theory. It was not a crime to conspire to violate the Election Code in 2002. See Colyandro, 233 S.W.3d at 870–71, 885. And, even if it was, the evidence does not support a finding that there was an “agreement” to illegally transfer corporate money to Texas candidates. There was no evidence that TRMPAC or RNSEC treated the corporate funds as anything but what they were, corporate funds with limited uses under campaign finance law. Rather, when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence showed an agreement to two legal monetary transfers: that TRMPAC transfer corporate money to RNSEC for use in other states and not in Texas in exchange for RNSEC transferring funds to Texas candidates out of a hard money account. Rather than supporting an agreement to violate the Election Code, the evidence shows that the defendants were attempting to comply with the Election Code limitations on corporate contributions.

But even if that were true, the court ruled, there was no core crime to begin with:

Finally, even if we were to conclude that the corporate donations to TRMPAC or the agreement itself to the series of money transfers violated the Election Code, the State’s charges as stated in the indictment were tied to the transfer from RNSEC to the seven Texas candidates. As stated above, the RNSEC issued the checks to the candidates from a separate, segregated account—a hard money account—which did not include corporate money.

The conclusion? DeLay didn’t commit a crime at all, and the conviction resulted from poor jury instructions:

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. See Williams,235 S.W.3d at 750; see also United States v. Grossman, 117 F.3d 255, 261 (5th Cir. 1997) (concluding that evidence legallyinsufficient to sustain conspiracycount where evidence was legally insufficient to sustain substantive counts forming basis for object of conspiracy); United States 21v. Mackay, 33 F.3d 489, 494 (5th Cir. 1994) (“A conspiracy conviction requires proof of an agreement to commit a crime.”). The fundamental problem with the State’s case was its failure to prove proceeds of criminal activity. We sustain DeLay’s first and second points of error.

Due to our resolution of these two grounds, we do not reach DeLay’s remaining points of error. Because we conclude that the evidence was legally insufficient to support DeLay’s convictions, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and render judgments of acquittal.

=======================================================================================================

Quite frankly, that deconstruction is so complete that it would be difficult to imagine the Texas Supreme Court overturning any of it — and a successful appeal would have to hope that the court overturns all of it, or at least enough to get a new trial. I’d predict that the directed verdict of acquittal will send a strong enough message to dissuade prosecutors from trying it again.

DeLay joins the late Ted Stevens as two members of Congress recently prosecuted for corruption to be later vindicated in appeals to original convictions. William Jefferson, who was prosecuted in the same time frame, lost all of his appeals and will be in prison for at least the next ten years. The man who should be under scrutiny now is Ronnie Earle, whose years-long legal grudge match against DeLay and other Texas Republicans has been thoroughly discredited by the appellate court.

.. LEC here again — I do not know what has become of Ronnie Earle . If  he is smart , he should have left the state of Texas . If he has not , he should prepare to get his sorry rear end dragged into court . Except , this time , he will be in the dock . His law license will be at stake  …

.. for those idiots in the media . It was not just a reversal of the conviction . There was never a crime to begin with , you morons . Read the above , and the legal opinion in the case . Delay was adjudged not guilty , so he cannot be tried again in a court of law again . Ronnie Earle can , however , for misconduct in office , among other charges , and also for violation of Delay ‘ s civil rights . It would be interesting if a U.S. Attorney would take up the case , once a complaint were filed . You can bet the U.S. Department of InJustice will not handle the case . But , they just might pressure any U.S. Atty to not handle the case . Holder and his minions are certainly capable of that …

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