DeGuerin and DeLay, in their zeal, have made that more, not less, likely:
Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub, a Republican who was to have selected the judge for the case, withdrew after Travis County District Attorney Ronnie 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.Lne thing about being in court: both sides can call the same tune, when it suits them. Which brings its own problems:
Schraub asked Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson to name a judge to preside over DeLay's trial, and Jefferson selected semi-retired Senior Judge Pat Priest of San Antonio. Jefferson's involvement, however, could invite yet another challenge.
State documents examined by The Associated Press show that Jefferson's 2002 campaign treasurer, Bill Ceverha, also was the treasurer of DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee. Ceverha was a defendant this spring in a civil trial brought by Democrats who lost state legislative races to Republicans in 2002.
Lawyers on both sides in DeLay's case have argued that political contributions by judges have harmed at least the appearance of impartiality. But in a state where judges are elected and free to contribute to candidates and political parties, it could be a challenge to find a judge who meets both sides' definition of impartial.
Prosecutors believe Schraub to be "completely fair and impartial, with a sterling reputation of honesty and integrity," Earle wrote. "However, as the recusal of Judge Perkins reflected, such is unfortunately no longer the standard in our state for the judiciary."
In his request for Schraub's removal, Earle said Schraub's financial support of Perry reveals that the judge "agrees in principle with Perry's agenda regarding Tom DeLay's redistricting map."I agree with Silver; but DeLay started it, and Earle would be remiss not to use the same club against DeLay. What this proves to me is that DeLay debases everything he touches or is involved in.
Prosecutors also suggested that Schraub appears politically indebted to Perry, who appointed him as administrative judge and can reappoint him in January.
Schraub, 76, has also contributed to George W. Bush's campaigns for governor and president.
DeLay objected to Perkins, a Democrat, because he has contributed to Democratic candidates such as
John Kerry and the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org.
The judicial wrangling is "a great shame," said Charles Silver, a legal ethics professor at the University of Texas Law School.
"It says that the judges who we elect can't be trusted to apply the law neutrally in cases that in some way, shape or form bear on their political beliefs," Silver said. "If that's true, we really need to revamp the whole system."
His removal from public office cannot come soon enough.