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October 06, 2005

Jury shopping with Ronnie Earle

From the Houston Chronicle...

An attorney for U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on Wednesday accused prosecutors of engaging in unethical grand jury shopping to obtain criminal charges against the former House majority leader.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle had gotten one grand jury to indict DeLay on Sept. 28 on a charge of conspiring to violate state election laws. Two days later, a second grand jury rejected Earle's attempt to indict DeLay on money laundering charges. But a third grand jury on Monday gave Earle the money laundering indictment he sought.

"The district attorney is supposed to be an officer of the court and is supposed to be bound by ethical rules ... It just doesn't smell right," DeLay's attorney Dick DeGuerin said.

Earle said his action was warranted by the discovery of new evidence of campaign finance violations over the weekend, and DeGuerin didn't challenge the legality of the district attorney's persistence....

"Ronnie's set a record for three grand juries in five days. Getting rejected by a grand jury should put an end to the efforts," he said.

"There's no new evidence. The new evidence is he knew we were on to his game and knew we were going to file the motion to dismiss."

Earle didn't say what his new evidence was.

The Washington Times reports...

Mr. DeLay and two political associates were first indicted Sept. 28 on a charge of a criminal conspiracy to violate campaign-finance laws and then were indicted by another grand jury Monday on the two money-laundering charges.

But in between, Mr. Earle, the district attorney for Travis County, Texas, tried but failed to get still another grand jury to indict Mr. DeLay, apparently on money-laundering charges.

"We have inquired carefully into the case... and in this said matter, we have failed to find a bill of indictment against him," the grand jurors said in their "no-bill" statement regarding Mr. DeLay and two political associates.

Also yesterday, the foreman of the first grand jury, which returned the campaign-finance conspiracy indictment, said yesterday that his vote to indict was based on TV commercials that he disliked and were run by a Texas business group in 2002 and not on any evidence presented to the grand jury.

"My decision was based upon those, not based upon what happened in the grand jury room," William Gibson told Austin radio station KLBJ. "They were stating their positions, and I could state my position by saying I don't like that."

GOPBloggers has the audio of Gibson's statements.

I also wonder whether Earle needed the entire Grand Jury to agree with him or a simple majority. From what I've heard, Grand Juries are abused quite a bit by corrupt prosecutors and judges because they have so much power, yet are almost always composed of people fairly ignorant of the law and of their own rights and abilities to know more than what the DA hands them...and yes, apparently, they sometimes are composed of absolute morons.

Coverage: Blogs for Bush, Powerline, Sister Toldjah, GOP Bloggers (also here), GM's Corner

Posted by Danny Carlton at October 6, 2005 06:16 AM

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