Tom DeLay's appeal - No Justice for Tom DeLay - Justice Diane Henson

Following is a letter I received from Brad Wright about the upcoming appeal in the case of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. DeLay was convicted of "money laundering" on what many believe to be an Ex Post Facto law. Wright has been following the story very closely and has very detailed information on the case including information about one of the Democrat Justices who should recuse herself from hearing the appeal because of campaign comments she made.

This case is about a lot of what is wrong with politics today. Candidates and elected officials must live in fear that people will abuse the justice system and try to do through wrongful prosecution what they are unable to do at the ballot box. Former Travis County District Attorney, Ronnie Earl, is a disgrace to the legal community. He is infamous for conducting prosecutorial persecutions of political enemies. He did it with a newly elected Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and he did it with many others including Tom DeLay.

Here is what Brad Wright has to say…


There has been a lot of strange activity in Tom DeLay’s appeal over the past two weeks. Tom deserves our help with Republican elected officials.

This a a long email I hope you will read on a full screen.

Just so you can see what Tom is facing - look at the brief partisan rant by one of the justices assigned to his case. 

Tom’s plight is staring to get more attention form even the liberal media.

The Democrats have been awful from the beginning of this travesty – but the Republican elected officials have done nothing to help. Not one GOP official has tried to help Tom and some have even made the problem worse. The Republicans are afraid the media will attack them if they help Tom.

It looks like the inept Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson (Rino) is going to be critical to this process....perhaps in several ways -

1) He will have to appoint a third judge to hear the Henson recusal;

2) He will have to appoint a third judge to hear the appeal if Henson is recused;

3) He may be asked to reassign the appeal to another appellate district.

Jefferson completely screwed up Tom’s case in 2005 when he assigned his San Antonio Democrat buddy former Judge Pat Priest to hear Tom’s case. At the very first hearing Priest said he was a busy judge and was not going to rush this case ahead of his others. Priest informed everyone at the hearing that he worked out of his home and didn’t have a lot of help. Tom, of course, needed a quick resolution to stay on as Majority Leader because of the rule the Republicans adopted in 1993 requiring any Republican in leadership who was indicted to give up their leadership post until the charges were resolved. When it soon became apparent the indictment would not be resolved quickly, Tom had to resign as Majority Leader.

Priest slow-walked the case for six years. He let the trial become a bashing of Tom for things unrelated to the indictment....and then sentenced Tom to three years in the penitentiary.

This is a case about party politics. For Jefferson to pretend to be above such things shows him to be a naïve dunce....and hopelessly disloyal.

The State Republican Executive Committee and the Texas Federation of Republican Women have passed resolutions supporting Tom in his appeal and urging all Republicans to support him.

Brad Wright


Almost seven years ago the Travis County DA indicted Tom DeLay for money if Tom was involved in something nefarious. Tom was not wealthy when he went into office and was not wealthy when he left office. This political prosecution has consumed all his personal resources and left him unable to make a living.

Some Austin lawyers say the DeLay case is the the most expensive prosecution ever undertaken by the Travis County DA against an elected official. Courthouse observers say more money was spent on the DeLay case than on a capital murder case. Just how much money was spent on this case?

Tom Delay is not perfect but he has been a warrior for the conservative cause throughout his career. Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri has been a strong supporter of Tom DeLay throughout this ordeal.

Tom did nothing wrong, nothing illegal, nothing immoral and he broke no laws. He received no personal benefit of any kind. His life has been ruined by a partisan political vendetta. He was sentenced by a Democrat judge to three years in prison for something that wasn’t even a crime.

Tom’s only crime was pushing the Texas legislature to pass a fair redistricting bill in 2003 that finally gave Republicans the number of Republican congressmen they earned at the ballot box. A summary of the redistricting history is contained in the letter to Speaker Straus included below.

Republican State Chairman Steve Munisteri described Tom’s contribution to the redistricting process as follows:

“The Republican success in redistricting would not have happened without Tom DeLay. The Republican Party of Texas and Republicans throughout Texas owe him a debt of gratitude for finally securing a plan that was fair to Republicans. The people of Texas owe him a debt of gratitude for giving them the opportunity to have representation that reflects their values.”

The criminal justice system in Travis County is a black hole from which Republicans rarely escape when party politics is the issue.

This case is about the criminalization of politics. Election rather prison is the way political differences should be resolved in our country.

Republican elected officials ought to be backing Tom because this nightmare could happen to them in the black hole of Travis County.

The Washington Examiner picked up the Henson recording.

Below is a link to the Texas Conservative Review which has an article on Tom DeLays appeal.

The TCR article also has a link to the recording of Justice Henson at the 2006 State Democratic Convention.

2nd article down.


Justice Diane Henson (D) is one of the three justices on the Third Court of Appeals assigned to hear Tom DeLay’s appeal on May 23rd. Two Democrats and one Republican will hear Tom’s appeal. The three other Republicans on the Court have Democrat opponents in November and are trying to avoid the case.

Imagine having this partisan leftist hearing your appeal.

Only the first sentence of the recording linked below refers to Tom DeLay but I think her message is clear

The rest of the recording is a general attack on Republicans judges calling them zealots controlled by the special interests, big corporations and big insurance. She ends her speech calling Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht unethical and having no sense of shame and no sense of honor.

Henson only had three minutes to speak and she chose to lead with Tom DeLay....not her qualifications or experience.

Henson specific reference to Tom DeLay’s appeal in this partisan speech is

1) a measure of how strongly she dislikes Tom DeLay,

2) proof that she believes the partisan audience dislikes Tom DeLay and they cheer,

3) an implied promise to deal with Tom DeLay harshly and

4) an obligation on her part to her Democratic audience that she will be obligated to fulfill.

Why would she bring up Tom DeLay’s case if she did not already have an opinion?

Henson was asked to recuse herself and she refused A motion to recuse her was filed May 4th but given the propensity for judges to take care of one another on recusals the chance of recusal seems dim.

The secretive nature of the recusal process undermines confidence in the judiciary. After more than ten days there has still been no ruling on the Henson recusal.

How could Chief Justice Woody Jones (D) in good conscience possibly allow Henson to stay on the panel? Apparently Jones will not vote to recuse Henson.

Tom DeLay has been going through this ordeal for almost seven years.


The Republicans on the Third Court of Appeals are still running away from Tom’s case. There are are six judges on the Third Court of Appeals – two Democrats (Woody Jones and Diane Henson) and four Republicans (Bob Pemberton, Jeff Rose, David Puryear and Melissa Goodwin).

The original panel from the Third Court of Appeals was to be Woody Jones (D), Bob Pemberton (R) and Jeff Rose (R).

Bob Pemberton (a Perry appointee in 2003) immediately recused himself because his November opponent works in the Travis County DA’s office - a lame excuse to avoid Tom’s case. But Pemberton’s Democrat opponent has now taken a leave of absence from the DA’s office.

Jeff Rose (a Perry appointee in 2010) was named to the panel and then said he didn’t want to be on the panel. He also has a Democrat opponent.

Diane Henson (D), a hardcore lefty, was appointed to take the place of Pemberton on the panel. Her brief speech to the 2006 State Democratic Convention began with Tom DeLay and continued with a vicious attack on Republican judges. She was asked informally to recuse herself by DeLay’s lawyer but refused to do so. A motion to recuse her was filed on May 4th.

Jeff Rose was replaced on the panel by Justice David Puryear (R).

That made the panel is Jones (D), Henson (D) and Puryear (R).

Puryear (R) is a good judge who recognized in an earlier appeal that the money laundering statute did not apply to checks in 2002 when the events occurred. The Legislature added checks to the definition in 2005. The DA’s office did not want Puryear on the panel.

Puryear (R) recused himself in early May apparently because his son works in the DA’s office – not a reasonable basis for recusal...but at least his excuse involved his son. One senior person in the DA’s office commented at the time of the son’s hiring in 2010 that the hiring would have the benefit of keeping Justice Puryear off any DeLay appeal.

Justice is Melissa Goodwin (R) is the only remaining justice to take Puryears’ place on the panel. She is a solid conservative who was elected in 2010. We can only hope that Goodwin not recuse herself.

If Henson (D) is recused then only Woody Jones and Melissa Goodwin would be left on the panel. That would result in the Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson (Rhino) being asked to appoint a judge from somewhere else to serve on the panel.

Jefferson would probably appoint a Democrat since it was Jefferson who appointed an awful Democrat judge to presided over Tom’s case and trial for the past six years. That Democrat judge slow walked the case for five plus years, hammered Tom every chance he got and then sentenced him to three years.

Alternatively, Wallace Jefferson might be asked to refer the appeal to another Court of Appeals Jefferson would probably mess that up by sending it to an appellate court in some other Democrat stronghold.

Mr. Speaker, Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to call me regarding Tom DeLay. Let me apologize in advance for all the information contained in this email but it is important that you have sufficient information to determine how to proceed. You will find it easier to read this information on a full screen or in printed form.

The National Review and Human Events articles above give a different perspective about the injustice Tom DeLay has experienced. Even the Washington Post saw Tom’s conviction as the criminalization of politics. Attached is a 2005 Wall Street Journal article describing the facts of Tom’s case. It provides a good background on the case. Also attached is a letter Steve Munisteri wrote on behalf of Tom for the sentencing hearing. From the early hearings in 2005 it was obvious Tom DeLay would not get a fair trial in Travis County. The trial last November was a evidence of Tom committing any crime was presented. I was glad to be there for Tom but ashamed of the process. Imagine the fear and frustration of being caught up in a justice system where you have no chance at all. Every time you thought things might get better they got worse. It was like repeatedly getting the wind knocked out of you. Monday at sentencing, I saw Tom get hit really hard. His family was crushed. I’ve been friends with Tom for 33 years. He is far from perfect as most of us are but always fought tirelessly for the conservative cause. Occasionally Tom said things I thought were better kept to himself....but I never had to live with the relentless, vicious personal attacks from the left that were part of every day for Tom for almost twenty years. The punishment Tom received was ridiculously excessive. People who commit real crimes are given probation when they have a spotless regard like Tom. The unelected Democrat judge made a political decision. Now Tom is a convicted felon based on a deceitful, manipulative prosecution presided over by a defeated Democrat judge in crazy leftwing Travis County. The indictment, trial, conviction and sentencing would have offended any fair person’s sense of justice and proportion. The DA went to multiple grand juries before he finally found one that would indict Tom. Most of the people Tom helped and served over the years disappeared when Tom left office. Sadly, there is not much loyalty in politics. Jury research showed Tom could not get a fair trial in Travis County – big surprise. The Travis County DA spent more time and money prosecuting this case than a capital murder case. Every day 6 to 9 Assistant DA’s were in the courtroom. Money laundering sounds so dirty. The reality is that Tom never touched any cash, check or negotiable instrument. He did not profit personally from the transaction. He did not negotiate the terms of the transfer. In any event, everyone involved in the transaction believed it was legal. The general counsel for the Republican National Committee testified the transaction was lawful. Democratic Congressman Martin Frost engaged in a similar fundraising effort and the Travis County DA never said a word. Redistricting History Tom’s real offense was helping achieve the first fair congressional redistricting for Texas Republicans in history... ending decades of Democratic gerrymandering. The number of Republican Congressmen never matched the Republican voting strength because Democrats drew the district lines. The 1981 redistricting following the 1980 Census should have created many more Republican Congressmen. Gerrymandering by the Democratic Legislature in the 1981 redistricting gave Democrats a 21 to 6 majority of the Texas Congressional delegation in the 1982 elections. Tom DeLay saw Democratic gerrymandering first hand in 1981 as a member of the Texas Legislature. The 1991 redistricting following the 1990 Census produce more of the same. Democrats maintained control of the Legislature. The 1991 redistricting by the Democratic controlled Legislature gave Democrats a 21 to 9 majority of the Texas Congressional delegation. Going into the 2000 elections Republicans had a Texan running as the Republican nominee for President, already held every statewide office, and won a substantial majority of the aggregate vote cast in Congressional election but still were unable to win a majority of Congressional seats in Texas. The 1991 redistricting map was still skewing the election results in favor of Democrats. When the Legislature, controlled by Democrats, failed to fulfill their duty to pass a congressional redistricting in 2001, a panel of federal judges drew a plan that preserved the Democratic majority. Following the 2002 election Democrats still held a majority of the Congressional seats in Texas even though the aggregate votes received by Republicans Congressional candidates statewide far exceed that of the Democrats. Tom DeLay and other Republicans took lawful steps to help Republicans overcome years of Democratic gerrymandering. The Legislative Redistricting Board crafted the state legislative districts in 2001. Republicans gained control of the Texas House of Representatives in the November 2002 general election. That change led to the Legislature passing a Congressional plan in 2003 that reflected the Republican majority in Texas. Democrats refer to 2003 plan adopted by the Legislature as a “mid decade redistricting” when in fact it is the one and only redistricting plan passed by the Legislature during that decade. Had the Democrats fulfilled their duty to pass a redistricting plan in 2001 the passage of a plan in 2003 would not have been necessary. Republican candidates faired well in the 2004 elections conducted under the 2003 plan. For the first time since Reconstruction Texas elected a majority of Republicans to Congress, and the delegation more closely reflected the Republican majority in Texas. Republican State Chairman Steve Munisteri described Tom’s contribution to the redistricting process as follows:

“The Republican success in redistricting would not have happened without Tom DeLay. The Republican Party of Texas and Republicans throughout Texas owe him a debt of gratitude for finally securing a plan that was fair to Republicans. The people of Texas owe him a debt of gratitude for giving them the opportunity to have representation that reflects their values.”

Tom’s Appeal

Tom’s conviction will hopefully be overturned on appeal but that will probably take several years and money Tom does not have. Tom did not have wealth when he went into office and did not accumulate wealth while in office. But we will make sure Tom’s appeal is adequately funded.

Tom’s appeal will to the Third Court of Appeals in Austin. That district is made up twenty four counties. The elections in that district tend to be close...which may make justices cautious.

There are six justices on the Third Court of Appeals – two Democrats and four Republicans. Chief Justice Woody Jones is a lifelong Democrat but considered reasonable by Democratic standards. Justice Diane Henson is a hardcore liberal Democrat who will oppose Tom. Two of the four Republicans are new to the court and are believed to be solid conservatives who should have the courage to overturn Tom’s conviction. The other two Republicans are harder to predict.

I hope our Republican elected officials will get interested in Tom’s case rather than hiding from it. The reality is that appellate judges are elected on a partisan basis. They need to know that doing the right thing in this case is important to Republicans.

Legislative Action

The Legislature should consider the following:

1. Move the public integrity function to the Attorney General of Texas or the DA in their home county rather than the Travis County DA.

2. Give elected officials the right to be tried in their home county rather than Travis County.

3. Do not allow judges who have been defeated by the voters to hear cases as visiting judges.

I am most appreciative of your interest in helping. Thank you.

Best regards,
Brad Wright


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