DeLay May Have a Short 1st Day in Court

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The former House Majority leader's first day in court on conspiracy charges could be a brief one, a Texas judge indicated Tuesday.

State District Judge Bob Perkins said that Tom DeLay (search), one of numerous defendants scheduled to go before him on Friday, will be asked to designate for the record the names of his attorneys.

The judge said he doesn't know whether he'll take up any of the legal motions filed so far by DeLay's attorneys and that he may schedule those matters for a later date.

DeLay was forced to step down as majority leader last month after his indictment by a Texas grand jury. The Texas Republican initially was charged with conspiracy to violate the election code and days later was indicted on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money in an alleged illegal scheme to funnel corporate money to Republican Texas legislative candidates.

On Friday, DeLay is expected to be fingerprinted, photographed and booked this week, despite attempts by his attorneys to bypass that process, which court officials say will probably take less than 20 minutes.

"Perkins believes that if God was charged with a felony, he would have to go through the booking process, too," said D'Ann Underwood, court coordinator for the judge.

On Monday, DeLay's attorney said that the prosecutor offered the congressman a deal to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and save his job as majority leader, but DeLay chose to fight felony charges instead. Attorney Dick DeGuerin described the offer in a letter to the prosecutor as he filed motions in Austin to dismiss felony indictments and — barring dismissal of the case — to seek a speedy trial.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle (search) had no immediate comment.

While DeLay's court appearance will be in Austin, he also has the option of turning himself in to authorities in Fort Bend County, his home county. A spokeswoman there said officials have received no word that he will do so.

Travis County allows some defendants to do a "walkthrough" booking process, in which the defendant is photographed and fingerprinted. But DeLay's bond amount would be preset so he could immediately pay it and avoid a stay in jail.

DeLay also could waive going before a magistrate to have his rights and charges read to him.