Well, Texas has once again shown the nation that our judicial system is a joke. Tom Delay's defense team, acting under the leadership of Dick Deguerin, has managed to have Judge Bob Perkins removed as presiding judge from Delay's case for no other reason than because Perkins made political contributions to MoveOn.org, a liberal political group which now supports Delay's removal from office (although they had taken no such stand back at the time that Perkins made the contributions).
The ruling, made by semiretired Bell County Judge C. W. "Bud" Duncan is nothing less than a travesty of justice. The defense team's sole ground for arguing that Perkins should be removed from the case came in the fact that Perkins is a Democrat who supports Democrat causes, while Delay is a Republican. Duncan's decision means that, in effect, no judge in Texas should be allowed to preside over a case for any defendant who holds political views which are different than his or her own. Which is, of course, absolutely absurd.
Judges in Texas are, by necessity, political individuals. Texas judges, unlike federal judges and the judges in some other states, are elected rather than appointed. Texas judges run for office in order to gain their seats, and this means that they need to be involved with political parties and gain political support in order to gain their jobs. It is impossible to gain a seat as a judge in Texas without some level of political campaigning and fundraising, and to say that a judge cannot preside over a case because he holds different political views than one of the parties who appears before him is to completely undermine the entire system of elected judiciary which operates in our state.
Having worked as a defense attorney for many years, I can guarantee you that as I write this tonight, a thousand jailhouse lawyers (i.e., inmates who do their own research and legal drafting while in jail in the effort to defend themselves) across the state are busy drafting motions to have their judges recused from their cases because their judges have "political bias" against the defendants and support different political parties than the defendants themselves. (and, ironically, by the reasoning which held sway on the Delay case today, these defendants should be allowed to have their judges recused, especially since so many defendants in Texas jails are poor, minority inmates who would probably have the most to gain by supporting drug rehabilitation programs and other items on a liberal agenda, while the majority of judges in Texas are wealthy, white, and Republican- seemingly coming from a political point of view which is far different than that of the average inmate).
In light of the fact that there was absolutely no valid legal reason to force Judge Perkins to step down from Delay's case, I believe the ruling by Judge Duncan to be nothing more than political corruption, pure and simple.
Just last week The Austin Chronicle ran a story about the corruption and malfeasance which has been sweeping through Bell County (Judge Duncan's home county). The article specifically targetted Bell County District Attorney Bobby Bell, pointing out his racist prosecution practices (blacks are statistically far more likely to receive prison time than whites for drug crimes in Bell County) have long involved manufactured evidence and trials which did little more than railroad defendants who protested their innocence. The article points out the outrageous political practices of Bell, but it is also clear that the entire judicial process has been compromised in Bell County for some period of time. Defense attorneys refuse to practice in the county, and judges shove cases through the courts without granting defendants either the time or the resources to adequately defend themselves. Judges and juries regularly hand out sentences for first time offenders (especially minorities) in Bell County which include prison sentences that are in excess of 90% of the allowable sentence. This corrupt, racist county is the home of Judge Duncan, the esteemed jurist who somehow found his way into the Delay case in order to make one of the worst (and most suspect) legal decisions in recent Austin history.
I believe that promises have been made and palms have been greased. The rest of the country is laughing at the Texas legal system- some out of joy and some out of frustration- and today they are more than justified in finding our judicial system ridiculous.