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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

DeLay redefines "coercion"

Posted by: Hammer / 2:41 PM

It's standard practice in criminal prosecutions to offer the accused a chance to plead guilty to a lesser offense in lieu of facing trial on the greater offense. Unless you're Tom DeLay, in which case it's evidence of coercion:

"Before the first indictment you [DA Ronnie Earle] tried to coerce a guilty plea from Tom DeLay for a misdemeanor, stating the alternative was indictment for a felony which would require his stepping down as majority leader of the United States House of Representatives," [DeLay attorney Dick] DeGuerin wrote.

"He turned you down flat so you had him indicted, in spite of advice from others in your office that Tom DeLay had not committed any crime," DeGuerin wrote.

Yep. That's how it works. You make a plea offer, the defendant turns it down, you follow through on the charges. The only surprise here is the use of the word "coercion", which has a specific legal meaning (Black's Law Dictionary, 8th ed., 2004):

criminal coercion Coercion intended to restrict another's freedom of action by: (1) threatening to commit a criminal act against that person; (2) threatening to accuse that person of having committed a criminal act...

I'm a little surprised that DeLay's attorney is so vituperative.


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