- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2005

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The decision on who will preside over former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s criminal case will be made by a retired state judge with a reputation as a nonpolitical mediator.

Bell County Senior Judge C.W. Duncan, 81, was selected to consider Mr. DeLay’s request that state District Judge Bob Perkins not oversee his trial on conspiracy and money-laundering charges.

Mr. DeLay, accused of masterminding a political fundraising scheme that helped put more Republicans in the Texas Legislature and Congress, contends that Judge Perkins is too much of a Democrat to give him a fair trial.

Judge Perkins has contributed money to candidates and Democratic causes that oppose Mr. DeLay.

Judge Duncan, also a Democrat, scheduled a Tuesday hearing for arguments on Mr. DeLay’s motion.

Judge Duncan, appointed to the bench in 1978 by Gov. Dolph Briscoe, a Democrat, and elected in 1980 and again in 1984, is low-key about his politics, friends and colleagues say.

“He’s not driven by politics and personality,” said longtime Bell County District Attorney Cappy Eads. “I had Judge Duncan rule for me and rule against me both many times. Even in disagreement, I always felt that he was guided by his interpretation of the law and what he felt was the right thing to do.”

Judge Duncan has made small contributions to both Democratic and Republican candidates.

After his 1988 retirement, Judge Duncan took senior judge status, which means he serves as a visiting judge in courts across the state. He doesn’t have to run for election and “doesn’t have an ax to grind politically,” said Mary Harrell, a Killeen criminal defense lawyer.

As president of the Killeen school board for nearly 20 years, Judge Duncan gained a reputation as a mediator.

“The thing about Judge Duncan, he presided with such … control, he was a calming influence,” said Charles Patterson, a former Killeen superintendent.

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