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Judge Removed From DeLay's Criminal Case

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051101/ap_on_go_co/delay_indictment Judge Removed From DeLay s Criminal Case By APRIL CASTRO, Associated Press Writer 22 minutes
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2005
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051101/ap_on_go_co/delay_indictment

      Judge Removed From DeLay's Criminal Case

      By APRIL CASTRO, Associated Press Writer 22 minutes
      ago

      AUSTIN, Texas - The judge in the conspiracy case
      against Republican Rep. Tom DeLay was removed at the
      congressman's request Tuesday because of his donations
      to Democratic candidates and causes.

      A semi-retired judge who was called in to hear the
      dispute, C.W. Bud Duncan, ruled in Delay's favor
      without comment. A new judge will be appointed to
      preside over the case against the former House GOP
      leader.

      The ruling came after a hearing in which Delay's
      attorneys argued that state District Judge Bob
      Perkins' political donations called his impartiality
      into question. Perkins, a Democrat, has contributed to
      candidates such as John Kerry and the liberal advocacy
      group MoveOn.org.

      "The public perception of Judge Perkins' activities
      shows him to be on opposite sides of the political
      fence than Tom DeLay," defense attorney Dick DeGuerin
      argued.

      Perkins had declined to withdraw from the case, and
      prosecutor Rick Reed argued at the hearing that DeLay
      had to prove that a member of the public would have a
      "reasonable doubt that the judge is impartial" before
      Perkins could be removed.

      "Judges are presumed to be impartial," Reed said.

      Perkins did not attend the hearing and did not
      immediately return a call for comment.

      DeLay had no comment as he left the courthouse.
      Throughout the proceedings, he sat in the front row
      behind his attorneys with his wife and aides. He often
      smiled, and occasionally chuckled when Democrats said
      negative things about him in their testimony.

      DeLay's lawyers are also seeking to have the trial
      moved out of Austin, citing the media attention and
      noting that Austin, widely perceived as a liberal
      college town, is "one of the last enclaves of the
      Democratic Party in Texas."

      Judges are elected in Texas and are free to contribute
      to candidates and political parties. DeLay's lawyers
      repeatedly said during the hearing that they were not
      accusing Perkins of doing anything wrong, but that
      there should not be a public perception of partiality
      in the case.

      The issue came up for Perkins before. He voluntarily
      stepped aside in a 1994 case against Republican Sen.
      Kay Bailey Hutchison (news, bio, voting record).
      Perkins had made a $300 contribution to Hutchison's
      opponent. Hutchison, who was also represented by
      DeGuerin, was ultimately acquitted of misconduct
      charges.

      DeLay was forced to step down as House majority leader
      after being charged with funneling corporate campaign
      contributions to GOP candidates for the Texas
      Legislature. Texas law forbids the direct use of
      corporate money for campaigning.

      Delay's lawyers cited 34 contributions Perkins has
      made to Democrats since 2000, including donations to
      Kerry and to MoveOn.org, a group that has waged a
      campaign against DeLay.

      Perkins said that his contributions to MoveOn.org were
      made before it launched its anti-DeLay campaign.
      Prosecutors also argued that six of the contributions
      were wrongly counted twice by DeLay's attorneys.

      DeLay's attorneys subpoenaed Perkins to testify, but
      Duncan did not make him take the stand. Perkins argued
      that his participation would threaten the public's
      confidence in the judiciary.

      ___

      Associated Press writers Kelley Shannon and Liz Austin
      contributed to this report.
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