Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Michael: DeLay catches new indictment with possible life sentence

DeLay was indicted on new charges of money laundering and conspiring to launder money by a newly empanelled Grand Jury. The charges carry a potential sentence of life in prison.

This comes as somewhat of a surprise to me. The last indictment charging conspiracy, but no underlying offense, I suspected was a prelude to a pre-arranged plea bargain agreement with DeLay. I suspected that DeLay would get a slap on the wrist after getting a chance to bellyache and put his own spin on his plea, and the conspiracy charge would be very ceremoniously dropped. Earle is a hero, DeLay is vindicated (sort of), and everything is tidy.

But these new charges change the game entirely. It now looks like Earle is playing for keeps. Earle must have cut his deal with one of the co-conspirators and been given testimony and possibly documentary evidence to back these charges up.

DeLay is now blustering about Earle trying to "pull the legal equivalent of a 'do-over'". The only sense I make of this line of defense is some sort of misbegotten double jeopardy pleading. But double jeopardy doesn't attach until the petit jury is sworn, and does not apply to Grand Juries, so Earle could have the Grand Jury hand down 100 indictments on the same facts and it wouldn't matter until he had first gone to trial or plead out. DeLay's accusation of "prosecutorial abuse" by Earle on this very vanilla use of a Grand Jury is pushing the boundaries of ethics -- but that is where DeLay lives anyhow.

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