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DeLay lawyer says his client will never spend day in jail

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. (Reuters) - The attorney for former House leader Tom DeLay said on Thursday he is preparing a series of motions to appeal and overturn DeLay’s conviction on conspiracy and money laundering charges.

Former U.S. House of Representatives Republican leader Tom Delay is pictured in this handout booking photo released January 11, 2011. REUTERS/Courtesy of Travis County Texas PIO/Handout

Dick DeGuerin said in an interview from his Houston office that he is confident that DeLay will never spend a day in prison.

“I believe we will win the appeal, I believe his name will be cleared,” DeGuerin said.

DeLay is free on an appeal bond following his sentencing on Monday to three years in prison for funneling corporate contributions to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature in the 2002 election.

The Republican victory in that state election enabled the Republican majority in the legislature to redraw the state’s Congressional districts in an unprecedented mid-decade reapportionment to favor Republicans. The Republican action had followed a similar gerrymandering by the Democrat-controlled Legislature in 2001.

DeGuerin said he has filed his notice of appeal, and he also plans to ask Senior Judge Pat Priest for a new trial and a motion to block the sentence. DeGuerin says he expects Priest to reject those motions, but he says he is very confident that the appeal, which will go to the Third Texas Court of Appeals, will result in the conviction being overturned.

“The court of appeals in Austin has already ruled in the case of the two co-defendants that the indictment in our case is invalid, so I expect success in the court of appeals,” DeGuerin said.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the state’s highest court for criminal matters. The Texas Supreme Court hears only civil cases.

“What the court of appeals said, was that in 2002, when all this occurred, money laundering could only be done with cash and not with checks. And since there were only checks involved here, that could not be money laundering. That law has been changed, but it was changed after the fact. I expect that what the court of appeals will do is reverse it on that basis, but also on the basis of the fact that there was no crime proven,” DeGuerin said.

DeGuerin also blasted the quirk in the Texas law that allows the Travis County District Attorney, who then was an active Democrat who also pushed a criminal case against Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, to bring criminal charges against any elected official in Texas.

“It’s crazy, if they wanted to have some sort of office of public prosecutor of elected officials, that should be an office that is elective and responsive to the people of Travis County,” he said.

Travis County, which includes the University of Texas, is one of the most liberal and Democratic in Texas.

“I don’t think there was a worse place in Texas for Tom DeLay to get a trial,” he said. “We did a poll before the trial that showed that, even five years after all the publicity, he had as high a name recognition as President Obama, and it showed that he was hated by more people in Travis County than George W. Bush, and George W. Bush couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Travis County.”

DeGuerin said there is no deadline on filing the appeal, but he anticipates it to be filed within the coming sixty days. He says it could be years before the court issues a ruling.

“I think the effect of all this has been to chill debate,” DeGuerin said. “You can’t unring a bell. You can’t bring back what has happened to him in the last six years, and will continue to hang as a cloud over his head as the case goes through the appellate process.”

Editing by Greg McCune