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The "Politicization of Crime"

Reported by Chrish - November 5, 2005

Jim Angle, subbing for Brit Hume on Special Report 11/4/05, gave viewers a brief timeline of the succession of judges picked to hear the case of US Rep. Tom DeLay. Asking if they were confused, he handed the report to Fox correspondent Greg Kelly for the latest.

The segment opened with Kelly saying DeLay is eager for his day in court and a clip of DeLay stating emphatically "I'm innocent, and Earle (Prosecutor Ronnie Earle) knows it." Kelly said Ronnie Earle wants to prosecute; his clip shows him saying "our job is to prosecute abuses of power."

Kelly's report was really on the Texas legal system, where judges are elected by the public and run on a party ticket. The trick is to find a judge in Texas who has no ties to DeLay or his tentacles of fund-raising and PACs, nor any ties to partisan causes either Democratic or Republican.

Kelly's report was essentially this: The trail of judges began with Judge Bob Perkins, who was removed for "perceived bias" because Perkins had made contributions to grass-roots MoveOn.org. (tagged as "liberal" MoveOn.org.) According to Kelly, Perkins' boss B.B. Schraub went about finding a replacement but he soon recused himself after questions were raised about his ties to Republicans - he gave $2,000 to the Bush campaign. Schraub then referred the case to Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, but he had received money from the branch of the RNC at the heart of the criminal case against DeLay. "Over objections of Democrats", Jefferson appointed retired Judge Pat Priest, who reportedly has made contributions to Democratic state candidates. DeLay lawyer Dick Deguerin is satisfied with the appointment, saying Priest is known for fairness.

Not pointed out in the report is that, according to The Washington Post,

Prosecutor Earle "filed a motion seeking Schraub's removal on grounds that he had contributed to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's election campaign. Perry, a DeLay ally, worked closely with the majority leader in 2002 to ensure that Republicans gained control of the Texas House, a key step in the DeLay-inspired plan to redraw the Texas congressional map so that the state elected more Republicans to Congress."


Schraub's subsequent withdrawal threw the responsibility to Jefferson, whom Perry appointed as chief justice in 2004 and who shared a campaign treasurer in 2002 with Texans for a Republican Majority, the group indicted along with DeLay for allegedly funneling illegal corporate contributions into the House elections that year. Jefferson also was endorsed by the group, and one of its brochures listed him as a VIP guest at one of the group's fundraisers. Jefferson's letter did not explain the choice of Priest. Jefferson's office staff declined to comment.

Comment: The far-reaching connections are glossed over on FOX. If DeLay's attorneys are satisfied with the judge in the case you can safely bet that the judge will be friendly to their side. They don't care about fair or impartial, they only care about winning.

But, says Kelly, the intersection of the judiciary and politics has some Texans concerned. He says the next step for DeLay is to seat a jury with "at least some" Republicans on it. That is the "latest legal tactic with serious political overtones."

Comment: This is a microcosm of what we can expect from an ideologically loaded Supreme Court. Having a litmus test, as Bush clearly does for an extremist religious conservative, will result in the politicization of criminal matters and the criminalization of religious matters.

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