Local media is swarming around the Travis County Criminal Justice Complex this afternoon for the first day of jury selection in Tom DeLay's trial on money laundering and conspiracy charges. DeLay is the former-Republican House Majority Leader who is accused of conspiring to launder $190,000 in corporate cash to political campaigns. DeLay insists he's innocent.
DeLay was already cleared in a Justice Department probe examining his links to convicted ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but now he must face Texas charges that are separate from the Abramoff investigation.
The 63-year-old was not required to attend today's jury selection proceedings, but he opted to anyway, arriving this morning in a mood that KXAN characterized as upbeat:
"It's about time,"[Delay] told reporters as he entered a Travis County courtroom on Tuesday, holding hands with his wife and flanked by his attorney, Dick DeGuerin of Houston. "Not worried at all."
So how are lawyers vetting potential jurors? According to Fox 7, politics are an important factor:
Most in the jury pool said they could be fair, but one man who said he was a Democrat doubted his own impartiality because of his "distaste for the Republican party and the way they behave."
Apparently the trial is attracting all types of observers The Statesman says that after today's lunch break, an unidentified man interrupted the proceedings,
[H]e stood up and said, “I have business with this court that supersedes this.”
The man had been seen before the lunch break telling Tom DeLay that the Sugar Land Republican wasn’t even charged with a crime. The unidentified man was holding a law book.
The man was reportedly ordered out of the courtroom.
Testimony in DeLay's trial is expected to get underway on Monday, the day before the general election. And it should be quite a show. News 8 Austin says former Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick, Former U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza and state Senator Florence Shapiro, were all subpoenaed to appear in court.