Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) won a legal victory in Austin Tuesday, as his motion was granted to recuse the judge originally assigned to hear the money-laundering case against him.
Retired Judge C.W. Duncan ruled that state Judge Bill Perkins would be removed from the proceedings after DeLay’s lawyers argued that Perkins’ political donations to Democratic causes made him unfit to preside over the case involving DeLay. The former Majority Leader has been charged with allegedly funneling corporate donations into 2002 state legislative GOP campaigns in violation of Texas law.
DeLay’s attorneys had argued that Perkins’ multiple donations to Democratic candidates and, more importantly, to the liberal group MoveOn.org, suggested that he might not be able to hear the case impartially. MoveOn.org has been particularly critical of the former Majority Leader.
“The public perception of Judge Perkins’ activities shows him to be on opposite sides of the political fence than Tom DeLay,” said DeLay lawyer Dick DeGuerin during Tuesday’s hearing, according to The Associated Press.
Prosecutors argued that Perkins’ donations were not sufficient to put his impartiality in question, but Duncan ruled otherwise, prompting a happy response from the DeLay camp.
“Mr. DeLay is pleased the court carefully weighed the facts and the law and ruled in favor of the recusal motion,” said DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden.
The new judge in the case has not yet been named.