New Judge for DeLay Case May Be Named This Week

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The judge for Rep. Tom DeLay's criminal trial will likely be named by Friday, Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub said Wednesday.

"I'm going to try to do it this week if I can find a judge that has the characteristics we're looking for and will do it," said Schraub, a Republican.

Schraub will choose a retired judge outside of Austin's Travis County as he looks "for the best judge for the job," Dianne Griepentrog, Judge Schraub's assistant, told FOX News. She said Schraub wasn't focusing on any particular county's judges in order to find an appropriate jurist.

DeLay's proceedings will continue in Austin, where he was indicted last month on money laundering and conspiracy charges, unless a change of venue hearing rules otherwise.

The change of venue hearing is scheduled to be held at an unnamed date in Austin even if the new judge's district is in another part of Texas.

DeLay, R-Texas, said Wednesday he was pleased that a new judge will preside over his conspiracy case after a motion was granted Tuesday to remove the appointed judge because of his donations to Democrat causes.

"I had a very good day yesterday," DeLay said as he arrived for a GOP event at the Library of Congress.

Retired Judge C.W. "Bud" Duncan granted the motion from DeLay's defense attorneys to recuse Perkins from the case, saying Perkins had donated more than $5,000 in political contributions to several Democratic candidates and causes.

Perkins, a Democrat, refused to testify in the hearing. His actions were called into question by DeLay's attorneys based on contributions to Sen. John Kerry (search), D-Mass., a former Democratic presidential candidate and to the liberal advocacy group

If Perkins was left as the presiding judge, it could create an impression and public perception that he could not be fair, defense attorneys said.

DeLay had to step down from his top GOP post in the House after being indicted in a state fund-raising case where he allegedly gave corporate campaign money to Republican candidates running for the Texas Legislature. The former House majority leader may have violated Texas law that does not allow the direct use of corporate money for campaigning.

Perkins, the judge removed from DeLay's case, has been removed from cases in the past. He voluntarily stepped aside in a 1994 case against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (search), who was later acquitted of misconduct charges. Perkins had contributed $300 to Hutchison's political opponent.

Delay's lawyers cited 34 contributions Perkins has made to Democrats since 2000. Perkins has said that his contributions to were made before it launched its anti-DeLay campaign. Prosecutors also argued that DeLay's attorneys counted six of the contributions twice.

The new judge will also decide whether to try DeLay's associates separately or with DeLay.

John Colyandro, former executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, have asked for a separate trial from DeLay.

DeLay and his associates face five years to life in prison if convicted of money laundering. Felony conspiracy carries a penalty of up to two years in jail.

FOX News' Molly Hooper and The Associated Press contributed to this report.