Poor Jonathan Gurwitz.
The timing couldn’t have been worse for his opinion column in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only) yesterday.
Here is how the piece starts off:
Poor Ronnie Earle. For more than three years the Democratic district attorney from Travis County has waged a prosecutorial campaign to bring down Tom DeLay. After strong-arming three different grand juries in Austin last fall, Mr. Earle was finally able to obtain a rickety, three-count indictment of Mr. DeLay for violations of state campaign finance laws.
Judge Pat Priest has already dismissed one count against Mr. DeLay, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has yet to decide whether it will consider Mr. DeLay’s motion to dismiss the remaining charges, which in any case have yet to be presented to a jury in district court.
If only the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had dismissed the money laundering charges against DeLay, as Gurwitz was expecting. But instead, on the day that Gurwitz’ column appeared, the all-Republican court decided to allow the “rickety” case to move forward.
“Meager as it is,” Earle’s “political vendetta” against DeLay is apparently moving along at a steady pace, throwing a big monkey wrench into GOP plans to have The Hammer re-enshrined into his leadership post in time for the next Legislative session in Washington. Perhaps Earle has been “strong-arming” those Republican judges the same way he has those feeble-minded Texans who sit on grand juries.
But Gurwitz insists that Earle never had the goods on DeLay and that his downfall will be due entirely to the Abramoff scandal currently sending shockwaves through Washington, D.C.
In that way, he reminds me of the Al Pacino character in “And Justice For All...” where Pacino is a lawyer forced to defend a corrupt politician who he knows is guilty. In the climactic scene, Pacino gives an opening statement at the trial in which he taunts the district attorney saying he doesn’t have a case against his client:
The prosecution is not going to get that man today ... cause I'm gonna get him!
Pacino then turns on his client and viciously denounces him to the jury before being dragged away screaming You're out of order! He's out of order! This whole trial is out of order!
Likewise, after spending the first part of the column dismissing the money laundering charges as little more than a “money-shuffling technique” that was employed with equal finesse by Democrats, Gurwitz suddenly turns on DeLay and accuses him of “spectacularly violating a pact he and his Republican colleagues made with the American people when they assumed leadership in 1994.”
The problem here is that it is highly unlikely that DeLay would have confined his corruption to Washington, while always playing it straight back in Texas. The more likely case is that Earle got a hold of one piece of DeLay’s corrupt empire long before it was uncovered in Washington for all to see.