Court upholds dismissal ruling

AUSTIN (AP) – An appeals court sided with former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Wednesday, upholding a lower court ruling that dismissed one of the felony conspiracy charges against him.

Although it was a victory for DeLay, who announced this month that he is resigning from office, he still faces a money-laundering charge and another conspiracy charge stemming from the financing of state legislative races in 2002.

A lower court judge dismissed a conspiracy charge against the Sugar Land Republican in December, agreeing with defense arguments that a conspiracy law did not cover election code violations when the alleged offense was committed in 2002. The Legislature amended the law in 2003 to include the election code violation.

Prosecutors argued last month before a three-judge panel of the 3rd Court of Appeals that conspiracy to violate the election code had always been a crime and that the 2003 change merely clarified the law. Prosecutors wanted the charge reinstated.

The appeals court unanimously rejected that argument Wednesday. The ruling said that while the state’s argument had merit, the court was bound by legal precedent set by the Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court for criminal matters.

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