AUSTIN, Texas – Travis County is not so prejudiced against Rep. Tom DeLay (search) that former House majority leader couldn't get a fair trial in the city, a veteran defense attorney said Monday in a sworn court statement.
The affidavit by Betty Blackwell (search) was filed on behalf of prosecutors who are arguing against DeLay's request that his trial on money laundering and conspiracy charges be moved to another county.
"There is not so great a prejudice against the defendant, nor is there a dangerous combination of any sort, that will interfere with him receiving a fair trial in Travis County," Blackwell stated in the affidavit.
Defense attorneys argue that DeLay has been vilified in liberal Travis County, which was split into three different congressional districts as a result of a redistricting map DeLay engineered.
The change of venue request probably will be the first order of business for semiretired San Antonio Judge Pat Priest (search), who was assigned to the case last week. Priest has not yet scheduled a hearing on the matter.
DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin has not specified another city to move the trial to, but said state law mandates this type of case be returned to the home county of the accused. That would put the trial in Fort Bend County, outside of Houston.
DeLay, R-Texas, was required to step down from his top GOP post after being indicted in a state fundraising case where he allegedly helped give corporate campaign money to Republican candidates for the Texas Legislature. Texas law does not allow the direct use of corporate money for campaigning.