Texas Prosecutor Refuses

Subpoena From DeLay

Lawyers for indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) tried to turn the tables on a Texas prosecutor yesterday, delivering a subpoena to compel his testimony about his conduct with grand jurors.

Defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin, who contends there was misconduct by prosecutors, said Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle refused the subpoena at his Austin office when he declined to sign a paper acknowledging its delivery. Earle said he had voluntarily accepted the subpoena.

The subpoena is part of the defense tactic to have charges dismissed before trial against DeLay. He was obligated to step aside temporarily as House majority leader when charged with conspiracy and money laundering in a state campaign finance investigation. DeLay has denied any wrongdoing.

DeGuerin wants Earle and two of his assistants to testify, alleging prosecutors had improper contact with two grand juries that indicted DeLay and one that refused to file charges. DeGuerin said he would have Earle's subpoena redelivered Wednesday. Earle said that was unnecessary.

"It was not a properly prepared subpoena but we accepted service voluntarily anyway," the prosecutor said.

DeGuerin also asked that grand jurors be released from their secrecy oath so they could answer questions about the prosecutor's conduct. DeGuerin wants Earle to answer 12 questions about conversations he had with grand jurors, including whether the prosecutor became angry when a grand jury decided against an indictment of DeLay and why that decision was not publicly released.

Specter Says Miers Hearing

Will Start Within a Month

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said yesterday he hopes to start the confirmation hearing on Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers within a month and to wrap it up within a week.

The nomination has drawn growing criticism from conservatives who say Miers lacks proven conservative credentials and a judicial background.

Specter, in an interview with reporters and editors from the Associated Press, said Miers's professional qualifications are excellent but that she lacks experience in the area of constitutional law.

"The hearings will be focused on how she approaches constitutional issues, her capacity to handle them," Specter said.

Asked whether President Bush had chosen the best candidate, the senator said: "He has picked a candidate, and our job is to determine not whether she's the best qualified, but whether she's qualified."

The president nominated Miers, his White House counsel, to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

-- From News Services