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New judge named in DeLay case

AUSTIN, Texas -- A new judge was selected yesterday to preside over Representative Tom DeLay's trial on conspiracy and money laundering charges, after another judge became the second to step away from involvement in the case because of political contributions he has made.

Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub, a Republican who was expected to select the judge for the case, withdrew after District Attorney Ronnie Earle filed a request to have him removed. Two days earlier, District Judge Bob Perkins was removed from the case at DeLay's request because of his donations to Democrats.

Schraub asked Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson to name a judge to preside over DeLay's trial. Jefferson selected semi-retired Senior Judge Pat Priest of San Antonio, a Democrat.

Earle, however, has also filed a motion requesting Jefferson be removed from the case. The validity of Priest's assignment by Jefferson was not immediately clear.

State documents show that Jefferson's 2002 campaign treasurer, Bill Ceverha, also was the treasurer of DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee. The PAC is a codefendant in DeLay's case. Ceverha was a defendant this spring in a civil trial brought by Democrats who lost state legislative races to Republicans in 2002.

Jefferson also was elected to his seat with the help of a $25,000 donation from the Republican National State Elections Committee, a group at the heart of the money laundering charge against DeLay.

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