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November 26, 2010

Any (creative) suggestions for Tom DeLay's upcoming sentencing?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this AP article, which is headlined "Judge has many options in sentencing ex-Rep. DeLay." Here is how the article starts:

Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay argued throughout his trial that the deck was stacked against him by a politically motivated prosecutor and a jury from the most Democratic city in one of the most Republican states.

But following DeLay's conviction Wednesday on money laundering and conspiracy charges, some legal experts say the edge may now shift to the Republican who represented a conservative Houston suburb for 22 years.

Before DeLay's inevitable appeal, which his lawyers predict will be a far friendlier process than his trial, he faces sentencing next month from Senior Judge Pat Priest. While technically the money laundering charge carries a punishment of up to life in prison, the judge has wide latitude and could end up just giving him probation.

"It is absolutely impossible he would get anywhere near life," said Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. "It would be a period of a few years, if he gets prison."

Barry Pollack, a Washington-based lawyer who represents clients in white-collar and government corruption cases, said the judge may not feel the need to throw the book at DeLay, figuring the conviction itself is severe punishment for someone who once ascended to the No. 2 post in the House of Representatives.

For example, as a convicted felon, DeLay won't be able to run again for public office or even be able to cast a vote until he completes his sentence. "I think in a lot of cases a judge wants to make an example, but I don't see that happening here," Pollack said.

Maybe the sentencing judge should consider ordering DeLay to do a report on the careers of other House leaders like Nancy Pelosi. Or make him become a commentator on MSNBC?

November 26, 2010 at 11:16 AM | Permalink


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How did Delay personally profit in money from the transactions? I missed that point. He was trying to game the system, one set up by lawyers. He did so for the sake of his party, to whom he owed his power and privileges. The trial does appear to be a Democrat Party witch hunt. If reversed on appeal, the county, the prosecutor, and the judge should be made to pay costs, due to their improper motive. I would include jury liability, but these biased Democrats likely have few assets save their eligibility for government handouts.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 26, 2010 11:27:30 AM

He shouldn't be required to do a report on Pelosi, he should be required to intern for her, get coffee, general Man Friday stuff.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Nov 26, 2010 12:51:32 PM

He should join Maxine Waters, Charlie Rangel, and William Jefferson to community service at a local Community Economics seminar for low-income residents.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Nov 26, 2010 1:49:30 PM

He should be sentenced to watching repeats of his Dancing With the Stars performance - FOR LIFE.

Posted by: ABZ | Nov 26, 2010 2:03:17 PM

I am having a difficult time understanding how money laundering is taking "clean" funds and making them "dirty". I also understand that Dems in Texas have done the exact same thing as what DeLay supposedly did, yet Earle didn't prosecute them.

Makes ya wonder about this prosecution.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 26, 2010 4:52:09 PM

omg. federalist siding with the defendant. i'm going for a drive to see if hell (mi) hath frozen over.

Posted by: . | Nov 26, 2010 5:11:33 PM

Nice ad hominem. I have sided with defendants in here before. Note that you cannot answer my point. Just keep on showing your ignorance.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 26, 2010 5:34:07 PM

DeLay spent much of his adult life thumping the tub for draconian crime bills. He scoffed at the notion prison conditions could be overly harsh.


Ordinarily I'd argue that "novel theory" prosecutions like the one that brought down DeLay stand as an insult to free people. They start with a target and move forward after prosecutors sift through a humongus grab bag of vague, sweeping statutes in search of one that can be stretched to fit the target.

Money laundering and conspiracy charges are two of the more elastic, all-purpose, one-size-fits-all statutes prosecutors typically pull out of the bag.

Nonetheless, as Tom (get-tough-on-crime) DeLay reaps, so should he sew. No creative sentencing for The Hammer. He should go directly to prison.

Posted by: John K | Nov 27, 2010 12:00:12 PM

Nice situational ethics you got there John K.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 27, 2010 12:55:14 PM

Sentencing based on the political beliefs (as opposed to the charged behavior) of the defendant is the hallmark of a totalitarian state.

Avoiding prejudices of the kind John K expresses is yet another reason to have mandatory guidelines.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 27, 2010 5:09:34 PM

As the hammer has hammered others, so will he now be hammered.

Posted by: anon2 | Nov 27, 2010 6:00:51 PM

John: Tell me if I am wrong about you. You are a kind, gentle, bookish person. You prefer peace and enjoyment of life over conflict and domination.

When Delay advocated getting tough on crime, it was your type he wanted to protect from vicious predators who would kill to get your $5. Your freedom and peaceful pursuit of enjoyment are protected by conservative values, and blood sacrifice of Southern boys, white and black, fighting to protect you from the likes of the Taliban and the local gang.

I want you to write a letter of support and gratitude to Delay for all that he has done for you.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 27, 2010 7:21:18 PM

DeLay couldn't care less about my $5 or yours, SC. Demagoguing the crime issue is one of the things cynical, opportunistic conservative politicians do to scare working-class, low-information folks into voting against their interests.

Tom DeLay was a shill for the rich...a thug in an expensive suit. Soon he'll be a thug in an orange jumpsuit. I have no sympathy for him.

And I certainly have no reason to thank him. He helped turn America into the sort of police state that would have made Richard Nixon proud. Why should I thank him for that?

Love it when conservatives get all gooey about injustice after one of their own gets rolled by the system.

Posted by: John K | Nov 27, 2010 8:50:44 PM

Well given that "money laundering" in Texas could include lots of conduct that no one but a prosecutor would consider wrong, and given that this prosecution appears to have been politically motivated, I would hope that his sentence would be inconsequential. And for the record, I despise DeLay and pretty much everything he stands for, politically. But this case offends me, because it was motivated by his political power. Nevertheless, a jury appears to have found that he did something that met the technical definition of money laundering, so he has to suffer some penalty. By the way, it is worth reading the money laundering statute. The way I read it, I could be guilty of money laundering if a friend who sells drugs hands me money to pay his share of a bar tab--that amounts to facilitating a transaction with the proceeds of criminal activity, after all. That statute could use some fine-tuning.

Posted by: anonymous | Nov 28, 2010 3:32:36 AM

Fine-tuning won't fix money laundering or any of a boatload of fuzzy, fly-paper derivative statutes contrived decades ago to bring down lawyered-up mob bosses and drug kingpins. These days they're useful for bagging anyone from lowly clerks who might have crossed some regulatory line to sleazeballs who, like DeLay, crossed paths with hyper-ambitious prosecutors.

All these statutes should be retrofitted with clauses requiring tangible evidence of criminal intent.

What's really worth reading, anonymous, are RICO conspiracy statutes. Have I mentioned recently that I covered a trial a couple of years ago in which the jury broke from deliberations to ask the judge if it were "possible to acquit" on the conspiracy charge?

It was a good question. As jury instructions were being read, I remember thinking, 'Jesus, who isn't guilty of conspiracy under that standard?'

Certainly it's likely I've done business with strangers or mere acquaintances who'd engaged in activities that some inventive agent/prosecutor could embellish into an approximation of wrongdoing. Some of those activities might even have inadvertently accrued to my benefit...which pretty much makes me a conspirator.

This isn't law and order. It's tyranny.

BTW, federalist...and Bill, suggesting DeLay belongs in prison for being a D-bag is neither totalitarian nor situational ethics. It's what we liberal arts majors call hyperbole.

Posted by: John K | Nov 28, 2010 8:52:07 AM

John K --

You're developing a habit of saying X and then, when challenged on it, claiming that what seemed to all appearances to be a sincere if not passionate comment was just poetic license or (as you now say, "hyperbole"). This is a really good recipe for never being taken seriously.

The best example of this was not your ostensibly quite earnest recommendation that DeLay go to prison. By far the better one was your remark that a person who had her husband and stepson murdered for the insurance proceeds was merely to be located at one (undefined) point on a spectrum of -- I'm not making this up -- "troublesome citizens" -- who could make the occasional "mistake or misstep."

The problem is that there is no reason to believe that this sort of thing is, in your view, merely an exaggeration. You have made it cystal clear that you view prosecutions as routinely the work of a facist state that manufactures evidence to imprison for ghoulishly long sentences those who are either innocent outright or only marginally blameworthy. So I must ask your indulgence if I take with a grain of salt your increasingly frequent demurers of, "Oh, shucks, I didn't really mean it."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 28, 2010 8:43:54 PM

Let me rephrase in a way I hope you'll understand, Bill.

By my reckoning, Tom DeLay is pure evil. His only living rival for top honors in that category is Dick Cheney. So if Mr. Hammer were to end up in prison for any reason, I'd take some satisfaction from such a delightfully happy happenstance.

In a completely unrelated matter, it seems destructive of the aims of a free and open society to empower prosecutors to spin merely suspicious events into crimes punishable by decades in prison...much as they appear to have done in Mr. Hammer's case.

In other words, Bill, both things are true. Delay DESERVES anything bad that happens to him...possibly even including a stretch in prison for a bogus crime trumped up by inventive prosecutors. Yet giving inventive prosecutors such terrifying powers is a bad idea if free people are to remain free.

Hope this helps.

Posted by: John K | Nov 29, 2010 11:54:11 AM

how about a lifetime ban on every appearing on tv, newspapers, radio or books again?

I think that would be a worse punishment than prison for this defendant :)

and even if courts overturn the sentence for violating the First Amendment, won't it at least be fun to watch the ACLU defend Delay?

Posted by: virginia | Nov 29, 2010 12:35:53 PM


Posted by: federalist | Nov 29, 2010 2:32:21 PM

How about some much deserved hard time for the hammer. The guy who spread venomous hatred for political opppnents, benefitted his friends handily in gerrymandering Texas voting districts, laundered money in clandestine circles and threatened Bill Clinton and Paul Krugman. DeLay is some real white collar trash that gives politics a bad name.

Posted by: Philip Lane | Dec 15, 2010 2:07:17 AM

Why do I have a dog in this fight?? Because I AM a Republican, and Tom DeLay with his hammer tactics has done more damage to the Republican Party than Watergate ever did!Yes he SHOULD do time behind bars, but he won't. That's my prediction.

Posted by: Nancy | Dec 18, 2010 3:01:34 PM

Where did the money come from? Who has to reimburse the cost and those whom have claims? If you believe the American Community is responsible for power and privilege then stop winning about the current fiscal situation. And grow more money out your xxxx.

Posted by: DC Circle | Dec 23, 2010 11:38:05 AM

This is a test. I do not want to give my name or Email. I just want to see if this goes through as I was a Juror on this trial. If this is indeed anonymous then I will comment on all the stupid opinions I've read.

Posted by: anonymous | Dec 31, 2010 7:57:43 PM

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