Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Retroactive Ronnie

The Houston Chronicle has taken an in-depth look at the Texas law that Travis County D.A. Ronnie Earle used for his indictment against Tom DeLay on conspiracy charges. The bill was first introduced by Rep. Steve Wolens as a means of combating voter fraud -- more specifically the practice of sending campaign workers to nursing homes to "help" them mark their ballots. The broad language of the bill -- making conspiracy to violate state election laws into a felony -- enabled Earle to get his first indictment against the congressman.

But there is one little problem... the activity in question had occurred in 2002 and yet the law didn't take effect until late 2003. How this could have escaped Earle's notice is a mystery. But the prosecutor's mad scramble to secure more indictments at the last hour seems to indicate that his blunder had finally begun to sink in:

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle may have become aware of potential problems with the original indictment shortly after it was returned Sept. 28, the last day of the grand jury's term.

On Sept. 30, he presented different charges to another grand jury, which issued a no-bill.

On Oct. 3, a newly sworn grand jury indicted DeLay and two associates on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money.

Not the mark of a man who has his ducks in a row.

Article link:

A look at a law being used against DeLay

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