Cary v. Texas

Amicus brief in Cary v. Texas
Benjamin Barr, Stephen Klein & Trey Trainor


November 3, 2014 (Texas Fifth Court of Appeals at Dallas)

Is the Texas bribery statute (and related statutes) void for vagueness when applied to illegal campaign contributions that would otherwise be subject only to civil penalty?

In 2007, David and Stacy Cary broke several campaign finance laws under the Texas Election Code, indirectly contributing excessive funds to a judicial candidate. The candidate won the election handily, but was then indicted along with the Carys. The Carys and the judge were tried separately, and each convicted. Charges centered on bribery, money laundering, and organized criminal activity.

Only David Cary was sentenced to serve time in prison. His sentence is 14 years.

Shortly after the end of the legally baseless prosecution of Tom DeLay, the State of Texas is once again asking a court to ignore the Texas Election Code and transform campaign finance violations into criminal conduct. Rather than pursue the civil penalties provided in the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act—which could total $450,000 in this case—Texas seeks to ignore campaign finance laws and subject all political contributions in Texas to potential charges of bribery, money laundering, and organized criminal activity.

If this conviction is upheld it will lead to the absurd result that no one—not even campaign finance attorneys—will be able to reliably tell how political contributions become bribes. Furthermore, even if the state had properly followed the bribery statute, it is also unconstitutionally vague and overbroad to consider “filing to run for office” and “continuing to run for office” official actions that a public official can be bribed to undertake.

Click here to read WyLiberty’s brief.

Procedural History:

  • On November 3, 2014, WyLiberty attorneys filed an amicus brief in the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals at Dallas.
  • The Fifth Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on December 17, 2014.
  • On March 25, 2015, a three-judge panel of the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals ruled that the State’s evidence was insufficient to convict David Cary of bribery, money laundering or engaging in organized criminal activity, acquitting Cary of all charges. Click here to download the opinion.
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