DeLay can forget about resolving his Texas difficulties before the House reconvenes on Jan. 31.
A state district judge on Saturday dealt U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay a setback in his quest for a trial in January.
Judge Pat Priest canceled a Dec. 27 pre-trial hearing and refused to rule on whether DeLay, charged with conspiracy and money laundering, could be tried in early January on just the money-laundering charge. Instead, Priest will take no action until a higher court weighs in on the question of whether a separate conspiracy charge against DeLay should be reinstated.
The decision could postpone DeLay’s trial by weeks, if not months, unless his lawyers can get higher courts to intervene.
The Sugar Land Republican, who had to resign as U.S. majority leader when he was indicted in September, wants to be tried alone in January so he can reclaim his leadership job before Congress begins a new term at the end of next month.
The judge said holding separate trials is not the best use of the court’s time.
“Though Mr. DeLay may be entitled to sever the count (a decision I have actually not yet made), to go to trial on his case alone would require at least two trials where otherwise one would suffice for all three defendants. Out of considerations of judicial economy, I have determined to let my decision concerning a severance of counts wait until after the Third Court of Appeals of Texas, sitting at Austin, has made its ruling,” the judge wrote in an e-mail Saturday morning.
Although Priest wrote that he was sure the appellate court would act with “all reasonable dispatch,” Priest’s decision could mean a delay of weeks, if not months, in DeLay’s trial.