Rejoice In Delay's Misery
October 3, 2005 3:45 PM   Subscribe

A second Texas grand jury has indicted The Hammer on money laundering charges.
posted by aburd (51 comments total)
Double whammy!
posted by vannsant at 3:57 PM on October 3, 2005

Thank God. I thought Jim Adler had been indicted, but it's just DeLay. The Texas Hammer can never be evil.
posted by Sangermaine at 3:57 PM on October 3, 2005

can't wait until they trot out the ham sandwich line! i'm hungry!
posted by Hat Maui at 3:58 PM on October 3, 2005

I hope they keep adding indictments every week for the rest of the year until he is effectively buried in them. I wonder how many weeks in he'd still be bleating that he was innocent of all charges?

My guess is he'd give up and go quietly after the fifth or sixth week.
posted by fenriq at 4:08 PM on October 3, 2005

I'm gonna disagree on that one, DeLay will be screaming his innocence on his deathbed, and anyone who dares even say different is a traitor.

What I wouldn't give for a president who just wants a blowjob.
posted by Saydur at 4:10 PM on October 3, 2005

Do over!
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:13 PM on October 3, 2005

Nick of time, too. From what I read the statute of limitations runs out tomorrow.
posted by cameldrv at 4:21 PM on October 3, 2005

Hey Sangermaine looks like Adler may have to change his moniker soon. Whose the lawyer fella that brings roses?
Oh yeah Go Earle
posted by svenvog at 4:22 PM on October 3, 2005

Heh, heh, heh.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:23 PM on October 3, 2005

Here is hoping for a trifecta. Woot!
posted by Mr_Zero at 4:28 PM on October 3, 2005

Same D.A.?
posted by delmoi at 4:35 PM on October 3, 2005

Different grand jury.
posted by bshort at 4:41 PM on October 3, 2005

This one looks much stickier, too.
posted by bshort at 4:42 PM on October 3, 2005

Dick_Cheney: lolz u r skrood l8r
posted by wakko at 4:46 PM on October 3, 2005

Yeah, "Money laundering" seems a lot worse then "conspiracy", IMO.

In the other thread, Dios mentioned that he thought grand juries were very easy to convince. That seems probably true to me. How do grand juries work, anyway? I was under the impression that they hear evidence (and get to ask questions on their own, unlike trial juries), but they only get the prosecutor's perspective. I doubt it would be that hard to get an indictment from them.

Still, I doubt that a prosecutor who's been in the business for a decade or so would be pushing for empty indictments, especially given that he's successfully prosecuted lots of politicians .
posted by delmoi at 4:56 PM on October 3, 2005

posted by Skygazer at 5:05 PM on October 3, 2005

Are grand juries easier to convince than judges is the question. It's my impression that judges tend to have fairly low standards on the minimal evidence necessary to call a trial jury.

I think one of the advantages of a grand jury for a prosecutor is that it opens some doors for investigation before the trial.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:06 PM on October 3, 2005

The new indictment, handed up by a grand jury seated Monday, contains two counts: conspiring to launder money and money laundering. The latter charge carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

im just letting that small possibility sink in...

ah yes


ah yessss
posted by tsarfan at 5:11 PM on October 3, 2005

Money laundering! It's not just conspiracy this time. This casual romp through state law seems to have been ineptly done.

"Conspiracy to..." sounds somehow more sordid, but now Tom Delay is charged with doing the deed in his own right: Facilitating the takeover of the Texas State Legislature by
using corporate cash donations to finance the campaigns of candidates for office. And he seems to have done it with such .... well the best word is chutzpah. I mean thanks for the transparency in government, Tom!
posted by longsleeves at 5:26 PM on October 3, 2005

Whew. For a moment, I thought the REAL Hammer was in trouble again.
posted by soiled cowboy at 5:27 PM on October 3, 2005

The non-conservative Houston Press had their "best of" issue last week:

Best Republican: Paul Bettencourt
Readers' choice: Tom DeLay
posted by dand at 5:33 PM on October 3, 2005

Eh. Money laundering seems like a bogus charge to me. It sounds so serious until you realize it's often just putting money in a bank.

"Conspiracy to violate campaign-finance laws" is much more serious in my book. But then again, my book is worthless.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:39 PM on October 3, 2005

Best Republican: Paul Bettencourt
Readers' choice: Tom DeLay

What amazes me is that they could find that many DeLay supporters who could also read.
posted by wakko at 5:50 PM on October 3, 2005

Nick of time, too. From what I read the statute of limitations runs out tomorrow.
posted by cameldrv

If this is accurate, it may well be that the DA has little concrete evidence and is using the filing to gain more time. Not to say that nothing will turn up, but........
posted by IronLizard at 6:08 PM on October 3, 2005

The Texas Hammer can never be evil.

Not even if its might is wielded by the Strong Arm?

Best Jim Adler ad ev-err was one in Spanish with Jim Adler speaking bad Spanish in his thick-as-a-thick-thing Texas-hick accent. Yo sow-ey Jim Adler, el mar-tee-yo tayhahno! well, you had to hear it, I guess
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:10 PM on October 3, 2005

Nevermind. The more I read, the less it looks as if this will go anywhere.
posted by IronLizard at 6:11 PM on October 3, 2005

can anyone say "presidential pardon"? The week before he leaves office.
posted by edgeways at 6:12 PM on October 3, 2005

According to the Austin American-Statesman [registration required], this indictment's a do-over:
Travis County prosecutors rushed Monday to fix problems with an indictment against U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay by charging the Sugar Land Republican with the first-degree felony of money laundering.

Last week a Travis County grand jury ended its term by indicting DeLay on a charge that accused him of conspiring to violate state campaign finance laws. The problem with that indictment, according to DeLay's lawyers, was that the conspiracy law did not apply to the election code in 2002. The Texas Legislature changed the law, which went into effect Sept. 1, 2003.

That left Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle and his assistants presenting a complicated case to a group of grand jurors on their first day of meeting.

Prosecutors hoped to fix the problem by reindicting DeLay on charges that he conspired to launder corporate money into political donations. In 2002, the conspiracy law applied to money laundering.

DeLay's lawyers knew about the problem with the indictment but waited until midafternoon Monday to file a brief asking a judge to dismiss it.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:30 PM on October 3, 2005

Do you have any idea how much time I spent staring at that Hammer picture trying to figure out what the significance was of the word being divided into Ha and Mmer?

Way to post a frustrating picture, jerk.

Your posts should take into account how stupid I am from now on.
posted by shmegegge at 6:51 PM on October 3, 2005

A grand jury acts as little more than a rubber stamp for the prosecutor's office. I do believe that there was some sort of meaningful purpose and intent when the idea originated, but now it is truly just an enormous waste of taxpayer money.

I routinely watch a variation of the following exchange:

Judge: How many charges brought?

Grand Jury: 112.

Judge: How many true bills?

Grand Jury: 112.

It makes for riveting viewing.
posted by flarbuse at 7:05 PM on October 3, 2005

wakko, that l33t thing r0x0r3d.. give us another
posted by rolypolyman at 7:11 PM on October 3, 2005

Dios mentioned that he thought grand juries were very easy to convince

Grand juries determine whether there is probable cause, not guilt or innocence. They don't have the burden of conviction that falls on trial juries; they only need agree that there is sufficient evidence for a trial jury to hear. They do not rule on or endorse the evidence itself.

In practice, the grand jury exists simply as a check on the power of the prosecutor. A number of states use them in a limited fashion, or not at all.

The question is something of a variation on Meese's "most suspects are guilty" trope -- prepared prosecutors shouldn't be putting half-baked cases before a grand jury in the first place, so a high rate of rubber stampery is to be expected.

The Houston Chronicle, among others, is skeptical that Earle has the goods, especially given the vagueness of the Texas law -- unless he has an informant.
posted by dhartung at 7:24 PM on October 3, 2005

So hard to know quite how to feel when bad laws happen to bad people....


Oh, heck, let's party.
posted by clicktosubmit at 7:25 PM on October 3, 2005

The Ed Meese quote in its full bubblicious glory, presented for your dining and dancing pleasure:

"If a person is innocent of a crime, then he is not a suspect."

Hee hee hoo hah.
posted by clicktosubmit at 7:45 PM on October 3, 2005

For those who think that Tom DeLay is innocent, 76 year-old retired investigator William Gibson, who served as a member of the Texas Grand Jury against Tom DeLay, has some unwelcome news about just how open-and-shut the case is against him.

"It was not one of those sugar-coated deals that we handed to [District Attorney] Ronnie Earle . . . Mr. Earle has stacks and stacks of papers — evidence of telephone calls from Mr. DeLay and everybody."

Emails, phonelogs, and other information convinced the jury unanimously that the indictment should proceed. The members of the jury wanted to hear DeLay's side of the story, but he chose not to appear and testify in court.

More information in this NPR interview. DeLay's lawyers, unsurprisingly, did not return calls seeking comments on Gibson's description of the grand-jury proceedings.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:11 PM on October 3, 2005

I'd wait to see if it goes to trial before getting to excited. No DeLay fan here but I haven't seen anything that looks all that promising conviction-wise.
posted by Carbolic at 8:15 PM on October 3, 2005

According to the Austin American-Statesman [registration required], this indictment's a do-over:

According to the Houston Chronicle, it's not. They had an interview with George Dix, a law professor at the University of Texas. That text is gone from the posted story, but archived at Talking Points Memo. In short, the change of law went from "You can't commit conspiracy" to "You can't commit conspiracy, even in election law," so the most likely result of this little caper will be a hearty "Yeah, right" from the court. Worse, it looks like DeLay tried to game the system, and the system is now annoyed.

Note that *two* charges were filed today, and none pulled, so DeLay is now under indictment for conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit accounting fraud, and accounting fraud.

Why the two new charges? Well, amusingly enough, that first charge is going to fail. Why? Statue of limitations. How did it even get filed successfully? DeLay waived that protection, and the charge was filed, and the indictment made. With the work done, the grand jury was dismissed.

So: DeLay waives protections that get him off the one charge he's been indicted with. Why?

(At this point, I'm theorizing, but all the fact below are out there.)

Only one logical reason -- plea bargain. He was going to plea guilty, or knowing him, nolo contendre, to the one conspiracy charge, and avoid the real charges. Doing this, he gets a short term or just no time, and Earle gets another crook out of politics. It's all good.

But that would involve DeLay taking responsibility, and we can't have that. So, the first business day after the grand jury is dismissed, he revokes that waiver, and petitions the court to reject the indictment on technical grounds, just in case.

But the Hammer hit the thumb, not the nail. The judge of the case is on vacation. Oops. Other judges decide, for reasons of their own, not to rule on the motion. I'm sure the thought of "Nice stunt, asshole, and fuck you" crossed some of their minds when they decided that they were too busy to intervene.

That gives Earle a bit of time, and Earle is quick. He finds a seated grand jury that hasn't worked anything dealing with DeLay (probably really difficult about now) presents at least some of the real charges that DeLay had bargained away, and gets the indictments. Plural. Two. Accounting Fraud, and conspiracy to. Remember that.
posted by eriko at 8:39 PM on October 3, 2005

I bet somebody a beer that Earle has a witness, or witnesses, to DeLay's mob boss tactics.

DeLay has been a class A idiot. He seems to honestly believe that he will die the head of the House, that the House will always be Republican, and that another Democratic Senate or President will never be elected.

He doesn't even hide the fact that he is on the take these days. He might as well put up a 'For Sale' sign on his door, he is so crooked. I think DeLay is going down in flames. But who knows, the American legal system is so biased towards letting people off if they have money, you never know.
posted by teece at 9:04 PM on October 3, 2005

Evil will prevail.
posted by interrobang at 10:14 PM on October 3, 2005

At this point, I'm seriously tempted to donate to Delay's reelection campaign. He's been more harmful than beneficial to the GOP recently.
posted by gsteff at 10:35 PM on October 3, 2005

Dick_Cheney: u there?
Dick_Cheney: rofl nm beck was just on letterman, some good ish
posted by wakko at 11:06 PM on October 3, 2005

And you know he totally didn't tivo it either...
posted by wakko at 11:09 PM on October 3, 2005

Donate to delay's reelection campaign--brilliant idea! There are strict guidelines though: Last I heard, contributors had to be either (1) featherless bipeds, or (2) corporations, PACs, or other entities comprised of same. NO EXCEPTIONS. He's learned his lesson...
posted by clicktosubmit at 1:12 AM on October 4, 2005

posted by yousoundhollow at 4:10 AM on October 4, 2005

To avoid confusion with the real "HAMMER," we suggest you use Mr. Delay's other nickname, "Hot Tub Tom."
posted by 31d1 at 6:35 AM on October 4, 2005

Heh. Sangermaine made me laugh.

As for the second indictment, it smacks of desperation. I haven't read it yet, but my guess is that it is flimsy as well. As I said in the first thread about this, the first one was extremely weak (which drew insults against me from the usual suspects). After spending so much time on the first indictment (years!), that Earle had to rush to try to get this one because the last one was too weak is a clear indication that Earle is reaching.

I'll try to find it and read it, but my comments from the last thread stands.
posted by dios at 7:23 AM on October 4, 2005

dios - good that you're here. Apparently you didn't notice that you were being asked to defend your statements on grand juries in the previous DeLay Indicted thread. Now that it's back on topic, I would appreciate if you would respond to this question:posted by soyjoy at 9:01 AM on October 4, 2005

Thanks for pointing that out soyjoy. That really smacks of weak "gotcha" ankle-biting. Are you really interested in my answer? Or are you attempting to "score a point" against me? I'm fairly certain given the tone of this comments which it is.

I'm not sure if you are asking me to explain why people at the University of Dayton said what they said. I don't know. I know from practical knowledge that grand juries have lost favor and most jurisdictions have abolished the requirement of a grand jury indictments. That doesn't mean grand juries don't play rolls in indictments or investigations.

But I find it extremely petty for you to be so concerned because you found one source which sort of sounds like what I said might not be correct. But, I can point you to other sources to assuage your "curiosity":

According to the American Bar Association (probably more reliable than some students at Dayton):
Only about half the states now use grand juries.

From the Columbia University Press:
The use of grand juries has declined in the 20th cent., in part because they were perceived as prone to either prosecutorial domination or abuse of their investigatory role. Britain abandoned them in the 1930s, and today fewer than half of U.S. states employ them. The information, a written statement issued by a prosecutor, has largely replaced the indictment.

Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics:
"Many commentators in recent years have called for reform of the grand jury18 and many states have abolished the grand jury altogether in favor of other methods of pre-trial case screening, such as the use of judicial probable cause hearings.19"

Unlike with other provisions of the Bill of Rights, the Supreme Court has ruled that this requirement does not pertain to the state courts, and states are free to abolish grand juries. Consequently, many US jurisdictions have replaced the grand jury with a procedure in which the prosecutor can issue charges, leading to a preliminary hearing before a judge sitting without a jury.

Another source:
Most jurisdictions have abolished grand juries, replacing them with the preliminary hearing at which a judge hears evidence concerning the alleged offenses and makes a decision on whether the prosecution can proceed. However, grand juries are still used in a number of US jurisdictions.

The wiki:
Britain abandoned grand juries in the 1930s, and today less than half of the states in the U.S. employ them. Most jurisdictions have abolished grand juries, replacing them with the preliminary hearing at which a Judge hears evidence concerning the alleged offenses and makes a decision on whether the prosecution can proceed.

Now there are some quick sources right off of Google to deflate your little game of "gotcha." But let me go beyond that. The fundamental diconnect between Dayton and my point is that the grand jury has different rolls and there are overlapping jurisdictional issues. Grand juries are required in federal criminal cases. They are not in state cases. Most states followed the federal model until they realized it was worthless and most states stopped using them for indictments. They still might be used for other purposes. But the fact remains that states, who are not encumbered by the Constitution on this point, have largely done what Britain has done and abolished the use of pointless grand juries.

So please, quit trying to score points. You (and others in that thread) took a tangential comment by me that was ancillary to my overall point and tried to nitpick in a petty attempt to score points against me. There was not one ounce of good faith in such questioning. And, whats worse, when I didn't go back to the thread because I went home from work and forgot about it, you took that as a sign I was trolling because I didn't answer your nitpicking. You ignore the possibility that I just didn't see it, or if I had, that I chose not to engage in such sniping.

This sort of behavior is reprehensible, and I know I shouldn't waste time making this point. But it recurs in every thread I'm involved in, and it needs to stop. On this topic, I am done with it because it is clear that my substantive point isn't at issue; this is clearly a personal snipe.
posted by dios at 9:32 AM on October 4, 2005

A grand jury acts as little more than a rubber stamp for the prosecutor's office.
"...Ronnie Earle didn’t issue the indictment against Tom DeLay. A grand jury did. And as it turns out, the jury foreman William Gibson is a former sheriff’s deputy who praises DeLay specifically for his 'aggressiveness.'
'He did his duty and that bound him to look at Tom Delay as just another Texan accused of criminal conspiracy, [Gibson] said.

'I like his aggressiveness and everything, and I had nothing against the House majority man, but I felt that we had enough evidence, not only me, but the other grand jury members,' Gibson said.

The grand jury foreman also takes great exception to accusations that he and 11 other grand jury members followed the lead of Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle instead of following the evidence.

'It was not a rubber stamp deal. It was not an overnight deal. If we needed extra information, it was provided to us,' Gibson said. …

Gibson thinks there is enough evidence to convict Delay.

'We would not have handed down an indictment. We would have no-billed the man, if we didn’t feel there was sufficient evidence,' said Gibson." [News 8 Austin | September 29, 2005]
posted by ericb at 9:54 AM on October 4, 2005

You (and others in that thread) took a tangential comment by me that was ancillary to my overall point and tried to nitpick in a petty attempt to score points against me.

That's complete bullshit. The abolishment of grand juries was your main point, not ancillary, and the supposed fact that most states have done so was a large part of that point.

You demonstrated seeming cowardice in not responding to another user's citation of a comprehensive law school database showing exactly how different states use grand juries, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt and suggested you might have missed the ensuing discussion. Now that you've come back here to restate that point as though there were nothing up against it, asking you to defend the point is far from nitpicking.

For your part, other than the ABA quote which you've already cited, you offer a lot of muddy stuff about Britain or ill-defined "jurisdictions," which was not part of the question. Unlike wikis, the ABA seems like a pretty solid source, but then so would - even more so, one might think - the National Center for State Courts, which says: "All states use grand juries in some capacity" and goes on, again, to detail exactly how they're used, state by state. So: Are the people behind that site also "students"? Are they on crack? What gives?

As I said in the thread in question, I really don't care about this, I just thought you might want to clear up this very obvious discrepancy. So far you have failed done so, which I suppose is not surprising.
posted by soyjoy at 9:59 AM on October 4, 2005

Whoops. Looks like dios went home from work and forgot about this one, too.

Guess we'll have to wait till the next time he trots out the same unsupported statement to try again for an answer on this.

posted by soyjoy at 7:10 AM on October 5, 2005

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