Travis County (TX) District Attorney Ronnie Earle has a record of prosecuting politicians. Texas law does not allow the Attorney General to prosecute infractions dealing with state campaigns or crimes against the state; instead, that responsibility lies with the Travis County DA office.
Earle's office (before the DeLay indictment) has been credited with prosecuting approximately 12 Democrats and three Republicans.
I have found 11 indictments (DeLay bumps the number of Republicans to four). In reverse chronological order:
- 2005, US Rep Tom Delay (R)
One count of felony criminal conspiracy involving illegal campaign contributions. (cite)
- 1995, State Rep. Betty Denton (D)
Indicted on felony counts of perjury and records tampering for listing false loans and contributions on campaign finance reports.; pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Six months probation and $2,000 fine. (cite1, cite2)
- 1995, State Rep. Lane Denton (D) .
Convicted of felony theft and misapplication of fiduciary property for funneling money from the Department of Public Safety Officers Association to a Denton company. Sentenced to 60 days in jail/work release program, six years' probation, and $6,000 in fines and more than $67,000 restitution. (cite1, cite2)
- 1994, US Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)
Charged with misdemeanor and felony counts of official misconduct and records tampering. Acquitted after Earle dropped the case due to the Judge ruling that key evidence was inadmissable. (cite1, cite2, cite3)
- 1992, State House Speaker Gib Lewis (D)
Charged with gift-reporting and financial-disclosure violations. Plea bargain on misdemeanor ethics charges; $2,000 fine; the judge said he took into consideration that Lewis was retiring from public office. (cite1, cite2)
- 1990, State Rep. Chip Staniswallis (R)
Indicted for tampering with government records; pleaded guilty to felony theft. (cite)
- 1985, Attorney General Jim Mattox (D)
Indicted on felony bribery charges. Acquitted. Won re-election. (cite1, cite2)
- 1982, State Treasurer Warren Harding (D)
Indicted on two felonies for political misuse of office. Pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges. Did not run for re-election. (cite1, cite2)
- 1982, State Rep. Mike Martin (R)
Indicted on aggravated perjury charges. Pleaded guilty; did not run for re-eletion. (cite1, cite2)
- 1980, State Sen. Gene Jones, (D)
Indicted for official misconduct. Entered plea bargain for misuse of state computer.
- 1978, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Yarbrough (D)
Indicted and convicted of aggravated perjury for lying to grand jury investigating allegations that he was plotting to have an associate killed. Sentenced to five years; voluntarily gave up seat. (cite1, cite2)
And these investigations without indictments:
- 2002 : David Bradley (R), Bob Offutt (R), Joe Bernal (D) - Texas Board of Education (cite)
- ND, Bob Bullock (D) - Comptroller (Comptroller, 1974-1990 - cite)
Role of the Grand Jury A grand jury determines probable cause, not "guilt" or "innocence". Is there probable cause that a crime has been committed? According to the American Bar Association:
Since the role of the grand jury is only to determine probable cause, there is no need for the jury to hear all the evidence, or even conflicting evidence. It is left to the good faith of the prosecutor to present conflicting evidence.
In the federal system, a witness cannot have his or her lawyer present in the grand jury room, although witnesses may interrupt their testimony and leave the grand jury room to consult with their lawyer. A few states do allow a lawyer to accompany the witness; some allow the lawyer to advise his or her client, others merely allow the lawyer to observe the proceeding.
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