Rep. Tom DeLay appeared in court Friday for the first time since indictment, but arraignment on conspiracy and money laundering charges was delayed pending a hearing on his request for a new judge in the politically-charged case.
Inside the courtroom, Judge Bob Perkins told defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin that "the best way for me to handle" the request for a new judge would be to defer further proceedings.
That set the stage for a pointed exchange between the two men that seemed as much a campaign debate as a courtroom exchange.
In respectful tones, DeGuerin noted that Perkins had donated money to MoveOn.org, a liberal organization that he said has been "selling T-shirts with Mr. DeLay's mug shot on it."
"Let me just say I haven't ever seen that T-shirt, number one. Number two, I haven't bought it. Number three, the last time I contributed to MoveOn that I know of was prior to the November election last year, when they were primarily helping Sen. Kerry," responded the judge.
Prosecutor Ronnie Earle signaled he intends to contest the request for a new judge.
"What this means is if a judge had contributed to Crime Stoppers that judge could not hear a burglary case," Earle said. "Carried to its extreme, that is what I think this motion means and I think that's absurd."
It is absurd. DeLay's defense is basically saying you can't be tried by a judge of opposing political views. Does that mean we need to amend the Constitution so that when a President is impeached only the Senators of his party are in session for the trial?