| Texans are still living the ethical, political and economic nightmares left to us by former U.S. Rep Tom DeLay. Now, there's a fast-growing DeLay-related scandal darkening the already tainted reputation of Texas judges. Texas courts are dominated by the same special interests who purchased the legislature and the governor's mansion -- homebuilders like Bob Perry, anti-public school millionaire James Leininger, swift-boat finance captain Harold Simmons.
The sewers have backed up into Texas courtrooms. They need draining and cleaning. Sadly, it's not the special interests or their bought-and-paid for judges who are drowning in the unethical effluent of one-sided rulings that make a mockery of impartial justice. It's the people of Texas who suffer.
Before going on, let me say quickly that that not all Texas judges are lost in this swamp. There are good judges. There are courtrooms where fair trials still take place. God bless them. They know who they are, and the lawyers who practice in their courts -- and the citizens who seek justice there -- they also know fairness and impartiality when they see it.
Still, the overall situation is so bad that the editorial writers of the Austin American Statesman must ask the question they asked in today's editorial:
Have judicial ethics in Texas fallen so far that it is considered proper for a judge to rule on a motion involving defendants he previously counseled in a case he criticized?
The answer is yes, judicial ethics have fallen that far. On Tuesday, as Laylan Copelin of the Statesman reported today, Travis County District Attorney formally asked Third Court of Appeals Judge Alan Waldrop to recuse himself from a money laundering case against two DeLay associates. Waldrop had represented Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a group implicated in the scandal, and criticized the criminal investigation and indictments in the campaign finance scheme. Now on an appeals court, he sits in judgment on the case
As we noted yesterday, Waldrop and his colleagues have received a good deal of money from people who'd like to see the criminal cases go away. After all, the alleged crimes -- the pursuit of which at least led to DeLay's resignation from Congress -- also led to the speakership of their errand boy, Tom Craddick, who hasn't been forced from office. Yet.
As we've seen, the corruption is not limited to the Third Court of Appeals. No, it's system wide. It's time for those who care about justice, who know that democracy depends upon it, to drain the swamp. Maybe, finally, DeLay will be pulled down the drain along with the rest of the ugly special interests who have nearly ruined our state.