In a 3-2 ruling (yesterday), Republican Justices Pemberton, Puryear and Waldrop prevailed over Democratic Justices Patterson and Henson.
At issue was whether or not to have the full Court of Appeals rehear a controversial decision late last year that ruled, among other things, that the Texas money laundering statute was unconstitutionally vague. Their argument was the statute used the term "funds" rather than "check"
Defendants John Colyandro and Jim Ellis have been in the soup because of their role in an alleged money laundering scheme in former Majority Tom DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority. They were accused of sending unusable corporate contributions (illegal in Texas) to the Republican National Committee in DC and having identical amounts routed back as sanitized dollars.
After ignoring prosecutors request for an expedited review and sitting on the case for nearly three years, a three judge panel last year broke along party lines and raised questions about the legitimacy of the indictment.
In a scathing dissent, Democrat Justice Patterson pointed to last minute changes in court procedure and expressed amazement that the court resolved issues not before it -- like the vagueness of the money laundering statute.
Capitol Annex links to Patterson's dissent, and adds:
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Court’s opinion is that it --until overruled -- sets a precedent under which the state district courts in the 24-county region that makes up the Third Court of Appeals District could throw out all money laundering convictions involving checks prior to the 2005 law change since the court has construed the meaning of “funds” not to include checks for the purpose of Texas’ money laundering statute prior to 2005.
That's worth repeating: corporate political contributions made by check -- laundered specifically to evade the law in Texas -- don't meet the definition of the word "funds", as defined by the three GOP judges on the Third Court of Appeals.
Presumably this case will now go to the Texas Supreme Court -- where Republicans have a 9-0 "majority".