WyLiberty Brief Helps Turn Tide in Texas Free Speech Case

DALLAS, TX - The Texas Fifth Court of Appeals ruled yesterday in Cary v. Texas that evidence presented by state prosecutors to convict David Cary of bribery, money laundering and engaging in organized criminal activity was legally insufficient. The state brought the case against David Cary and others, arguing that a campaign funding system for a judicial candidate was instead a bribery scheme. Late last year, Wyoming Liberty Group attorneys filed an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief in the case detailing numerous constitutional problems with the state's theory.

"Texas law requires specific evidence to prove campaign contributions are bribes to prevent prosecutions like this," said Benjamin Barr, lead counsel to WyLiberty. "The state's prosecutors tried to skirt this requirement, making the absurd argument that although nearly all of the contributions in this case were used for a political campaign they were not, in fact, political contributions."

WyLiberty's brief argued that although the Texas laws in the case were clearly written, the state's theory was vague and overbroad and threatened all political activity in Texas.

"If the court upheld David Cary's conviction, the state would have had free reign to charge anyone making a political contribution in Texas with bribery," said Steve Klein, WyLiberty staff attorney. "The argument would be that it's not a political contribution, but a 'bribe to run for office' or a 'bribe to continue running for office.' Running for office and supporting candidates are not a corrupt acts, but fundamental facets of a free society."

The Fifth Court heard arguments in the case in December, 2014, shortly after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals acquitted Tom DeLay of charges of money laundering based on campaign finance laws. The court reversed Cary's sentence of 14 years and ordered full acquittal, but his case involves numerous convictions and plea bargains by other individuals.

"The state may still take David Cary's case to the Court of Criminal Appeals, so this may not end here. Before this ruling the state successfully convicted Stacy Cary, and plea bargained with Judge Suzanne Wooten and her campaign manager James Spencer," said Barr. "This is a major reversal in a horrible inquisition by the State of Texas, but so much damage is already done and, unfortunately, irreversible in court. Persecution like this shouldn't happen in the first place."

Founded in 2008, the Wyoming Liberty Group has directly represented clients in numerous free speech cases and has weighed in as a friend-of-the-court in free speech cases nationwide. James "Trey" Trainor III, of Beirne, Maynard & Parsons LLP served as local counsel on WyLiberty's brief.

For more information or to set up an interview, please contact:

Steve Klein, staff attorney

734-233-1705 (mobile)

The Wyoming Liberty Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization. The WyLiberty Legal Center works to vindicate its clients' constitutional rights in courts, with a strong focus on First Amendment rights in the political arena. In addition to today's ruling, this year WyLiberty won several free speech lawsuits in Wyoming, overturning a restrictive sign ordinance and two provisions of the Wyoming Election Code.

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