Legal Analysis: Perry Indictment Will Get Thrown Out by a Judge, or Rejected by a Jury

Rick Reed is a Democratic attorney in Austin, TX. A criminal defense attorney, he has analyzed the indictment of Gov. Rick Perry.

Reed knocks out one misconception about the indictment right off the bat. According to Reed, it does not allege two felonies. Rather, it alleges that Gov. Perry committed one felony and one misdemeanor.

I won't quote the analysis, as it suffers if any part is taken out of context. It's brief at just four pages, and it's a good read for a legal analysis. You can read the entire analysis here.

The final paragraph deserves a quote, though:

"Whether this indictment will die a quick death from a judicial ruling granting a motion to quash or one prolonged by a jury trial ending in acquittal, only time will tell. One thing, however, is certain: it cannot survive both judicial and juror scrutiny."

My only quibble with that is, if the indictment gets past a judge, a jury made of Travis County's finest is literally capable of anything. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison escaped the Travis County DA's flimsy charges against her in 1993 by getting her trial moved to Fort Worth. The jury took about 30 minutes to acquit her. Rep. Tom Delay's trial stayed in Austin, and he lost -- even though the law and the facts were clearly on his side. A judge later agreed and threw the convictions out on appeal. By then, Delay's career was destroyed and the Democrats had flogged him hard enough that they took over control of the US House of Representatives.

Some disclosure on this analysis is probably in order. After Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg's arrest for drunk driving, Rick Reed filed charges against her for abusing her power. The charges alleged, correctly, that Lehmberg threatened the processing officers when she tried to get Sheriff Greg Hamilton involved. The evidence of abuse of power was crystal clear. Yet a grand jury refused to indict Lehmberg, despite the clear and unambiguous evidence of her abuse of power, which was captured on video tape.

So Reed is not new to any of this. The grand jury's failure to indict Lehmberg, and another grand jury's evident eagerness to indict Perry, provide ample evidence that Rick Perry cannot get a fair trial in that county. The jury pool is beyond tainted against him. It is poisoned against him.

More: While we're on the subject of the indictment and the Public Integrity Unit, the question has come up several times -- How did a county DA get such widespread jurisdiction over elected political figures all over the state?

The answer: Former DA Ronnie Earle asserted jurisdiction on his own. Earle is no longer there, having retired in 2008. Lehmberg is his successor. After indicting Perry, the PIU's days in Travis County may be numbered. There will be a strong push in the next session of the legislature to disband it or move it to the state attorney general's office. The incoming lieutenant governor, state Sen. Dan Patrick, sponsored a bill to do just that in the last session, but it failed due to some political games in the state House.