Tom Delay (Ben Sklar/Getty Images)
Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
A Texas court has overturned the conviction of former House majority leader Tom DeLay in a money-laundering case stemming from the 2002 elections.
The documents were released Thursday by the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin.
"The evidence was legally insufficient to sustain DeLay's convictions," the documents said. The judges said they "reverse the judgments of the trial court" and acquit DeLay, once one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress, of all charges.
The acquittal means DeLay cannot be retried and the money laundering case is over. DeLay, now 67, left Congress in 2006. He served as majority leader, the House's No. 2 job and top lieutenant to the speaker, from 2003 to 2005.
"He's ecstatic. He's gratified. He's just a little bit numb," DeLay's attorney, Brian Wice, told the Associated Press. "I'm hoping with today's victory, he will be able to resume his life as he once knew it."
DeLay was convicted by a jury in November 2010 for illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate money via the Republican National Committee to help elect GOP candidates to the Texas Legislature in 2002. The RNC then in turn sent checks to Texas House candidates. State law prohibits corporations from giving directly to political candidates and their campaigns.
DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison on a conspiracy charge and five years for money laundering. He remained free while he was appealing his case. For years, DeLay had maintained his innocence and denounced what he called the "criminalization of politics."
In the appellate court's majority opinion, the judges said that "the evidence shows that the defendants were attempting to comply with the election code limitations on corporate contributions."