Is Tom DeLay Actually (Gasp) Correct that a Democratic Justice Can't Judge His Case Fairly?

Long before his tragically brief heyday on Dancing with the Stars, Sugar Land's Tom DeLay was convicted of campaign-finance violations.

He's appealing that conviction to the state's 3rd Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin, but many of the judges have taken themselves off the case.

One justice who won't do that is one the DeLay defense team thinks should do so, and it's just possible they have a point. Much as it pains any non-teabagger to agree with Tom DeLay.

Justice Diane Henson is currently part of the three-judge panel scheduled to hear the appeal, and DeLay attorney Brian Wice of KPRC fame says she's clearly shown bias.

He points to this 2006 speech before the state Democratic convention:

Henson comes out before a revved-up crowd and says:

My name is Diane Henson. I'm running for Place 3 on the Third Court of Appeals, which is the Court that sits in Austin next to the State Capitol. It is the Court of Appeals that would hear the appeal of Tom DeLay, if by chance he was convicted.

She then goes on about taking the courts back, and about "right-wing zealots that control our courts today, and they're all Republicans."

It's the kind of rhetoric you might expect, we guess, from electing judges, but since DeLay masterminded the movement she's talking about, it does give you pause.

Henson met with both sides in the case in her office; Wice tells us the state made no argument for or against her recusal. Henson later informed the sides she would not recuse.

"In 33 years I've only filed one other motion to recuse an appellate judge," Wice says. "The fact I felt compelled to do so in this case speaks volumes about how concerned I am that Diane Henson would squeeze the strike zone on us. When you watch that tape, you don't need to be a legal genius to see the business of judging has become personal for her."

The recusal motion will be heard by the remaining two judges on the panel, a Democrat and a Republican. If they can't agree, Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson will appoint a third judge to rule on the motion with them.

There's no timetable on all that.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly