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DeLay Case Gets New Judge -- Maybe

November 04, 2005|From Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — A new judge was selected to preside over Rep. Tom DeLay's conspiracy and money-laundering trial Thursday, after a GOP judge became the second to step away from involvement in the case because of political contributions he had made.

Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub, a Republican who was to have selected the judge for the case, withdrew after Travis County Dist. Atty. Ronald E. Earle filed a request to have him removed. Two days earlier, District Judge Bob Perkins was removed from the case at DeLay's request because of his contributions to Democrats.

Schraub asked Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson to name a judge to preside over the Texas Republican's trial. Jefferson chose semi-retired Senior Judge Pat Priest of San Antonio, a Democrat. Earle, however, filed a motion requesting Jefferson be removed from the case moments after Jefferson's office distributed a letter naming Priest to the job. The validity of Priest's assignment by Jefferson was not immediately clear.

State documents examined by Associated Press showed that Jefferson's 2002 campaign treasurer, Bill Ceverha, also was the treasurer of DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee. The PAC is a codefendant in DeLay's case. Ceverha was a defendant this spring in a civil trial brought by Democrats who lost state legislative races to Republicans in 2002.

Jefferson also was elected to his seat with the help of a $25,000 donation from the Republican National State Elections Committee, a group at the heart of the money-laundering charge against DeLay. And he received $2,000 from a DeLay-run PAC whose executive director is a codefendant.

DeLay is charged with illegally funneling corporate campaign contributions to Republican candidates for the 2002 legislative races. He was forced to step down as House majority leader after being indicted.

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