DeLay lawyers subpoena prosecutor, trying to compel testimony on contact with grand jurors |

DeLay lawyers subpoena prosecutor, trying to compel testimony on contact with grand jurors

WASHINGTON – Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay’s attorneys are trying to compel testimony by prosecutors on their contacts with grand jurors, sending subpoenas to the Texas district attorney who normally issues them.DeLay’s defense team reversed the normal direction of subpoenas in their strategy to have the charges dismissed before trial. The lawyers contend that the Travis County district attorney, Ronnie Earle, acted improperly with two grand juries that filed charges and one that refused to do so.DeLay, R-Texas, was obligated to temporarily step aside as House majority leader when charged with conspiracy and money laundering in a state campaign finance investigation led by Earle. DeLay has denied any wrongdoing.Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin said that Earle refused the subpoena delivered to his office on Tuesday, when he declined to sign a paper acknowledging its delivery. Earle countered that he voluntarily accepted it.DeGuerin wants Earle and two of his assistants to testify, and said he would redeliver subpoenas Wednesday. Earle responded that redelivery wasn’t necessary.”It was not a properly prepared subpoena but we accepted service voluntarily anyway,” the prosecutor said. He refused to say whether he would file a motion to have his subpoena dismissed.DeGuerin also asked that grand jurors be released from their secrecy oath so they could answer questions about the prosecutor’s conduct.Earle’s office said in a written statement, “Because of laws protecting grand jury secrecy, there are limitations to what we can say at this time, but we fully expect to prevail in this matter.”DeGuerin wants Earle to answer 12 questions about conversations he had with grand jurors, including whether the prosecutor became angry when a grand jury decided against an indictment of DeLay and why that decision was not publicly released.He also wants to know the details of Earle’s conversation with William Gibson, foreman of a grand jury that indicted DeLay on conspiracy charges, whose term has since ended.”If you did nothing improper, you should not be concerned about answering these questions,” DeGuerin said in his letter to Earle.The first of three grand juries said DeLay and two political associates conspired to violate Texas election laws; the second declined to indict, and the third accused DeLay of money laundering.All the charges were related to allegations that corporate money was funneled to Texas legislative candidates in violation of state law. The donations helped Republicans capture the Texas legislature, redraw congressional districts with DeLay’s help and take control of the state’s congressional delegation.In a motion filed last week, the defense team said that from Sept. 29 through Oct. 3, Earle and his staff “unlawfully participated in grand jury deliberations and attempted to browbeat and coerce” the grand jury that refused to indict DeLay.The motion said Earle then attempted to cover up and delay public disclosure of the refusal, and also “incited” the foreman of the first grand jury to violate grand jury secrecy by talking publicly about the case – in an effort to influence grand jurors still sitting.The foreman, William Gibson, gave media interviews after the grand jury finished its work but told The Associated Press that Earle did not ask him to discuss the case.”That’s a bunch of (expletive) there,” Gibson said. “That man did not talk to me.”He said Earle advised him and other grand jurors to keep an open mind as they considered evidence and cautioned them, “What goes on behind closed doors is secret.”The lawyers said Earle then spoke about the case with members of the first grand jury, whose work was finished, to get their opinion of what they might have done if they had known their conspiracy indictment was flawed – as defense attorneys alleged.Earle then submitted the grand jury opinions to the third grand jury to persuade it to hand down the money laundering indictment, the defense team contended.—Associated Press Writer Suzanne Gamboa contributed to this report.Vail, Colorado

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