The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals heard oral arguments Wednesday on whether criminal conspiracy charges brought against former US Rep. Tom Delay were properly dismissed at trial. Charges of conspiracy to violate election law and conspiracy to commit money laundering were dismissed last December after the trial court found that the Texas campaign finance statute was explicitly extended to allow the laying of criminal conspiracy charges only after DeLay's alleged wrongful acts. In April, the Texas Third Court of Appeals affirmed that decision but refused to dismiss actual money laundering charges against DeLay.
Prosecutors Wednesday asked the court to either overrule or distinguish those cases. Lawyers for DeLay argued that DeLay would not have had fair notice that his conduct was illegal at the time it occurred unless the statute then explicitly contemplated criminal conspiracy charges, which it did not, and that the legislature's subsequent amendment of the statute to include those charges showed that criminal conspiracy to violate election laws was a crime at the time of DeLay's actions.