Score One For Tom DeLay: His Democratic Judge Gets Tossed From Case

Former U.S. House Republican leader/Dancing with the Stars contestant Tom DeLay scored big Friday with the recusal of a Democratic judge from his appellate case for money-laundering.

Houston attorney Brian "Money-Quote" Wice told Hair Balls he had originally asked Justice Diane Henson to voluntarily remove herself from the case after seeing her deliver anti-Republican remarks at the 2006 state Democratic Convention, but she declined.

"In thirty-plus years of being an appellate lawyer, I think I've only had to file one other motion to recuse an appellate court judge," Wice said. "And so when you prevail, when you ultimately convince other judges that a fellow judge needs to go...the ever-present sports analogy is that it's like, you know, [the] fifteenth seed knocking off the two -- it happens, it just doesn't happen very often."

DeLay was convicted two years ago on money-laundering charges related to his 2002 election campaign and sentenced to three years in prison, but has remained free during the pending appeal.

In the video of the 2006 convention, Justice Henson delivers a tirade against Republican judges, saying, "The only activist judges we have in Texas are those conservative right-wing zealots that control our courts today and they're all Republicans....They have filled our appellate courts with extremists...."

She also points out, in thinly veiled sarcasm, that she sits on the appellate court that would hear DeLay's appeal "if by chance he was convicted."

Wice said that he gave DeLay the news while the former dapper dancer "was in Oregon giving a speech over the weekend, and he was elated. All he's ever wanted from day one was a level playing field....A level playing field was just not in the picture as long as Justice Henson's DNA was anywhere near this case."

Wice also said that "I gave [Henson] every opportunity to do the right thing. I reached out to the clerk of the court and got him a copy of the video and the transcript and suggested that he pass that on to her, and that she voluntarily recuse herself. And if that had happened, nobody would have ever heard of the entire recusal process...[it] would've been just another change in personnel."

We left a message with Justice Henson's office seeking comment, and will update if we hear back.

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