Not So Fast, Bugman

The Texas Court of Criminal Appealsagrees to consider reinstating conspiracy charges against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.</p.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay’s efforts to get his campaign finance criminal case to trial suffered another setback Wednesday as the state’s highest criminal court agreed to hear arguments on reinstating a conspiracy charge against him.

Last year, state District Judge Pat Priest threw out a charge of conspiracy to violate state election laws because the crime of conspiracy was added to the state law a year after DeLay’s alleged activities in 2002.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle appealed Priest’s ruling.

Earle and his lawyers argued that the state’s conspiracy statute applied to the election code in 2002 and that the Legislature added conspiracy language to the election laws in 2003 only to erase any doubt.

The 3rd Court of Appeals upheld Priest’s ruling but said Earle made some compelling arguments in favor of reinstating the charge.

The three-judge panel said, however, that reinstating the charge would require the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to overturn some of its rulings in other cases.

That prompted Earle to take the case to the all-Republican appellate court.

The court could have rejected Earle’s appeal outright, sending the case back to Priest’s court for additional pretrial motions and a possible trial.