Friday, October 21, 2005

Smile Heard 'Round The World

Usually people aren't too thrilled when they get their mug shot taken. But Tom DeLay was beaming yesterday when he submitted himself for booking by Texas authorities in response to Ronnie Earle's indictments. And while many laugh because DeLay robbed the Dems of an opportunity to use a mugshot as a campaign weapon, I think this shows a continuing resolve on the part of DeLay, and should serve as an example to Republicans.

But just as Ronnie Earle went forum shopping for his grand juries, so too did Tom DeLay for his mug shot. DeLay is from Sugar Land, Texas, which is in Fort Bend County, Texas. However, he submitted himself to the sheriffs in neighboring Harris County. And he did so for a reason. As stated above, DeLay was expected to go to Fort Bend County. The media, expecting the perp walk that they had been wanting, were outsmarted. Also, note that there are some pieces missing from the photo, namely the prisoner numbers and the height measurements, among other things that are the hallmarks of a mug shot. And while I'm not certain about the rest of Texas, Harris County doesn't include those things in the photos.

More to the point, DeLay has denied Ronnie Earle the media victory he wants, which was the whole point to this indictment--a gotcha moment that, while unlikely to lead to a conviction, would be very politically costly to DeLay in an upcoming election where his seat appears to be in play.

The matter now is how far Earle intends to take this. As I have argued before, Earle has much to risk in this venture. Besides the political fallout from yet another politically motivated and contrived case, Earle's own office and perhaps even his license to practice could be on the line. It didn't take much for DeLay's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin to charge Earle with prosecutorial misconduct--the act of prosecuting someone who is likely not guilty--a charge not taken lightly. If the State Bar of Texas is satisfied that Earle brought this action without substantial justification, but rather as a political stunt, he could be subject to professional sanctions including the loss of his license to practice.

Of course, there is another fun wrinkle. The indictment was brought in Austin, Texas, and is being heard by Judge Bob Perkins. Austin is Texas's San Francisco, explaining Earle's desire to have the indictment procured and trial conducted there. Judge Perkins is a contributor, meaning that he's a nut who may disregard the law in favor of a political victory. DeGuerin has asked the judge to recuse himself and has asked for removal from liberal Austin/Travis County because he fears that he cannot receive a fair trial. I'm taking bets from those who say that the judge will grant either motion.

Stay tuned, because if this collapses as I expect it to do, DeLay will come out shining. And Earle and the left by association may be in more trouble than he ever dreamed. Because the only thing of which DeLay is guilty is outfunding and politically marginalizing Democrats on the Texas and national level. Which to the left is the only crime for which capital punishment should exist.


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