Another criminal escapes justice on a technicality

Interestingly, that’s not how the right-wing noise machine is approaching this story, about how some of the indictments against Tom DeLay have been thrown out. You’d think that people who have spent literally four decades decrying “judicial activism” and unjust outcomes of people “clearly” guilty, would be a-twitter that a judge and then an appeals court threw out the indictments on a technical point.

In fact, however, people at, say, the National Review think this post-facto justifies Mr. DeLay and makes it almost criminal that he was forced to step down as House Majority Leader. We should all cry for Mr. DeLay, apparently. Except of course — as even the more-friendly Houston Chronicle article is forced to admit — Mr. DeLay still faces charges of laundering money and of committing conspiracy to launder money. Those were crimes at the time (Illegal to launder money? Who knew?) — and he may still face trial on them.

The guys at the National Review take this as evidence that “the charges seem to be falling apart”, but that seems a tad over-optimistic based on the articles I’ve seen. The dismissal came because the crime Mr. DeLay was alleged to have committed didn’t come into force until 2003, whereas his disreputable actions happened in 2002 and before. It seems the courts had little choice on this one — though I’d love to know what prosecutor Ron Erle had in mind when he pressed the charges in the first place. I doubt this is as open-and-shut as it seems. All that notwithstanding, the other charges are not hobbled by the same calendar problem. Money laundering and conspiracy have been on the books as crimes for quite some time now.

Though the Review article would have you believe that the dismissals taint the other indictments, in fact, the only reason that Mr. DeLay has not faced trial yet is that the presiding judge opted to wait until the appeal of indictments was complete.

Has “the Hammer” been vindicated? Hardly.

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