Will DeLay Be Cleared on a Technicality?

The Austin American-Statesman reports that former Rep- Tom DeLay might end up being cleared of money-laundering charges merely because they were dealing with checks, not cash:

Money-laundering charges against former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and two indicted co-conspirators may be dismissed because the 2002 campaign finance case involved checks and not cash, a lawyer for DeLay said Sunday night.

“We win,” said Dick DeGuerin, DeLay’s lawyer, “because there’s nothing but checks in the case.”

The state’s 3rd Court of Appeals on Friday actually upheld the money-laundering indictments against DeLay’s two campaign associates, John Colyandro of Austin and Jim Ellis of Washington.

But the ruling contained a silver lining for the trio’s lawyers because it concluded that the state’s money-laundering statute — written in 1993 to combat illicit drug activity by focusing on the cash in the criminal transactions — did not apply to checks at the time DeLay is accused of laundering corporate money into campaign donations. The Legislature changed the law in 2005 to include checks.

DeGuerin said he would take the appellate court’s opinion back to Pat Priest, the trial judge in San Antonio, who has dismissed the check argument previously. Armed with the opinion, however, DeGuerin said he expects Priest to reconsider DeLay’s motion to dismiss the charges because only checks — not cash — were involved in the transactions.