Judge Throws Out Tom Delay Conspiracy Charges
A judge threw out conspiracy charges against ousted House Majority Leader Tom Delay, a major blow to the prosecution team.
Interestingly, the Washington Post headline to the AP story emphasizes the negative:
Money laundering charges against Republican Rep. Tom DeLay were upheld Monday, dashing his hopes for reclaiming his post as House majority leader, but the judge dismissed charges related to any conspiracy to violate Texas’ election code. Judge Pat Priest, who is presiding over the case against the Texas Republican, ruled on several motions filed by prosecutors and DeLay’s attorneys last month.
DeLay was required under House rules to relinquish the leadership post he had held since early 2003 when he was indicted in September in a finance scheme centered on the 2002 Texas House races. Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri became majority leader.
At a hearing Nov. 22, DeLay’s lawyers asked for a quick decision on their request for dismissal of all charges, and, if the ruling went against DeLay, a prompt trial, in hopes that he could regain his leadership post by the time Congress reconvenes in January. The House is expected to return late next month. But the judge said at the time that it was unlikely the case would go to trial before the first of the year.
In asking that the case be thrown out, DeLay lawyer Dick DeGuerin argued that one of the charges _ conspiracy to violate the Texas election code _ did not even take effect until September 2003, a year after the alleged offenses occurred. Priest dismissed that charge, citing those grounds.
The YahooNews headline on the AP story is along the same lines: DeLay’s Money Laundering Charges Upheld
Ditto the New York Times: Judge Upholds Some Charges Against Delay
USA Today, also carrying the AP wire copy, uses a more appropriate headline: Judge drops conspiracy charges against DeLay.
CNN is in Breaking News mode but gets the order right, at least: “Judge tosses conspiracy charges against ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, but allows money-laundering charges, according to AP.”
This isn’t pedantry or partisanship on my part. Delay is in serious trouble and, even if he is ultimately acquitted on these charges, there is plenty of evidence that he played as close to the limits of legality as possible, almost certainly crossing the line of proper ethical conduct. Regardless, however, the news here is Delay’s the conspiracy charges being dropped, not other charges remaining.
News, as the name implies, is about things that are different. An hour ago, Delay faced two serious charges; he now faces one. Considering that he faced the remaining charge when the day began, the new thing is the charge he no longer faces.