Once known as “The Hammer,” former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay was back in Austin, Wednesday morning. He was at the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals trying to prevent an overturned conviction from being re-instated.
Tom DeLay walked into the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals with a confident smile. DeLay and his defense team are trying to prevent the appeals court judges from reinstating his two felony convictions.
“This case isn't about money laundering or conspiracy, it’s about the criminalization of politics,” said DeLay defense attorney Brian Wice.
In 2010 a Travis County jury ruled that DeLay illegally used political donations to orchestrate Republican wins in state and congressional races. That verdict was overturned by a lower appeals court this past September. Wednesday morning, assistant Travis County DA Holly Taylor argued, the reversal was a mistake.
"The main point I was trying to hit home is that I think the court of appeals did not defer to the jury in this case and I think that’s what appellate courts are supposed to do, respect the jury's assessments of the weight of the evidence and credibility of the witness that testify and in this case the court of appeals kind of ignored some of the key witnesses that testified,” said Taylor.
DeLay and his attorney emerged from the hearing confident and a little defiant.
"There is a fine line between prosecution and persecution and these folks crossed it a very long time ago,” said Wice.
DeLay added, “this is legislating by prosecution."
"By indictment,” corrected Wice.
Regardless of how the court will eventually rule, the shift of power under the capitol dome orchestrated by Tom DeLay remains firmly in place. The current political climate could even provide DeLay with an opportunity to run again for office, if he remains free.
"I won’t change, I haven’t gotten out of politics, I've been involved in different ways. The Democrats nor the left have slowed me down one iota over this long period of time, and I'm still involved,” said DeLay.
Gary Cobb, who originally prosecuted DeLay, said he stands by his work and the message that was sent four years ago.
"They don’t want it to be money laundering because it’s in a political environment, but politicians can commit crimes and they should be prosecuted when they commit crimes just like anyone else,” said Cobb.
A return to court for Tom DeLay is not out of the question. If his conviction is reinstated, his attorneys say a new appeal is ready to be filed.
There is no set time table for a ruling, it could weeks even months. Tom DeLay was sentenced to serve three years in prison. He has remained free during the appeals process.