McALLEN — Recently convicted former state district judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado has filed a motion to have his convictions thrown out and is additionally requesting a new trial, according to the court filing.
In a 20-page motion for judgment of acquittal and motion for new trial, Delgado’s attorney, Michael McCrum, argues that the government failed to sufficiently prove its case against the former state judge.
In February 2018, Delgado, who presided over the 93rd state District Court for more than 15 years before resigning in April 2018, was indicted in connection with an investigation that found he had accepted cash from a local attorney in exchange for favorable consideration inside his courtroom.
On July 11, a federal jury returned guilty verdicts on all eight charges against Delgado after a four-day trial in McAllen. Delgado is set to be sentenced on Sept. 25, records show.
The government presented to jurors audio and visual recordings of Noe Perez, the former attorney turned informant, who met with Delgado on several occasions to solicit a bribe in exchange for favors in Delgado’s courtroom.
One of the defense’s main arguments has been that the government failed to present evidence of a direct “quid pro quo” between Perez and Delgado.
During his time on the stand, Perez testified that there was never a direct quid pro quo between the two; instead, he said he would give the judge money for other things, such as the purchase of firewood Delgado owned with the hope that the cash payments would lead to favorable rulings or considerations from the then-judge.
Perez stated under oath that the first “deal” took place in 2008.
He said Delgado took possession of a pickup truck he had recently acquired without compensating Perez for it. He said he decided not to confront Delgado about not paying for the truck, which was estimated to be worth around $15,000, believing this helped establish good “credit.”
McCrum argues that the government relies on a “speculative” finding in making its case of an agreement between the two men; the three counts of bribery and the matching Travel Act violations, rely on assumptions that Delgado received “monies with the express intent to commit official acts in exchange for payment of monies.”
“Evidence of an agreement between (Delgado) and Perez between January 2008, and November 2016 consisted solely of Perez’s testimony,” the court document read.
McCrum additionally argues that the conviction on obstruction should be thrown out as well.
Government prosecutors showed jurors a text message sent from Delgado to Perez on Jan. 27, 2018. In it, Delgado asked Perez to call him because he claimed to have just discovered that the envelope delivered to him about a week earlier contained cash he could not accept; citing all campaign contributions need to be made via check.
This, the government argued, is Delgado’s attempt to “cover his tracks” after learning of a possible federal investigation into him. Earlier that day, Delgado called state Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-Mission, into his chambers and confronted him about a rumor of an investigation into Delgado that Guerra had shared with state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa.
Hinojosa subsequently shared that rumor with Delgado during a social meeting between the two men days before Jan. 27, 2018, the night he texted Perez about the campaign contribution.
The government argued the envelope delivered to Delgado by Perez contained $5,500 in cash, and that no reasonable person would have thought that the envelope, which was a half-inch thick with cash, contained anything else.
McCrum argued during the trial that Delgado believed the envelope was for his campaign for the 13th Court of Appeals, and as a contribution to a foundation he established for his son, Roman Delgado, who died in 2007.
In the motion, McCrum argued the government failed to provide evidence that Delgado knew or was aware of any investigation into him, or that Perez was also involved.
‘The Government’s case on the obstruction count was purportedly based on (Delgado’s) intent to interfere with a federal grand jury investigation relative to his dealings with (Perez), yet the Government’s evidence was (a) absent regarding (Delgado’s) knowledge of “a federal grand jury” investigation as charged in the indictment,” the motion states.
Based in part on those arguments, McCrum stated: “A verdict of guilty as to all counts should not stand.”
Additionally, McCrum requests the court to consider whether any motion for a new trial should be granted if the judgment of acquittal is later vacated or reversed,” the filing read.
The filing of the motions came Monday, a few days removed from Delgado submitting a letter of resignation for his seat as Justice of Place 4 on the 13th Court of Appeals.