Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tom DeLay, Ronnie Earle, and everyday Texas justice

One wonders whether GOP criticisms of coercive plea bargaining practices by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle against former House majority leader Tom DeLay might create a political space to revisit the unseemly practice. DeLay's getting his own taste of what other defendants in Travis County courtrooms see every day.

Indeed, the prosecutorial tactics DeLay's defense team are
complaining about most recently are used so commonly against typical defendants that it's hard for the public not to see the irony: "Before the first indictment you tried to coerce a guilty plea from Tom DeLay for a misdemeanor, stating the alternative was indictment for a felony which would require his stepping down as majority leader of the United States House of Representatives," DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin complained in a recent letter.

Compare that to how the average defendant (who can't afford Dick friggin DeGuerin to represent them) is treated. A recent consultant's report (pdf, p. 46) analyzing the Travis County probation system declared that frequently Travis County prosecutors "may not push for a prison sentence knowing that there is not enough evidence for getting a conviction to prison in a trial but there is enough to force a plea for a probation sentence."

In other words, prosecutors under DA Ronnie Earle routinely "force a plea" for crimes they know they can't prove in court!

That's just what Tom DeLay accuses Earle of doing to him! So if it turns out that a jury doesn't convict DeLay
, the only thing that should be considered extraordinary would be the acquittal.

Otherwise, welcome to everyday Texas justice.

Talk Left.

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