What we know about the timing of a Texas Senate trial

An attorney for the impeached Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, said Wednesday that his Senate trial could drag on for months.

The state Senate is scheduled to convene as an impeachment court by Aug. 28. Senators are due to meet on June 20 to consider the rules of procedure.

Tony Buzbee, a Houston attorney, said if the Senate wanted to have a “real trial,” there was a lot of work to do by August.

Buzbee called the indictment a contrived “sham”.

“And if it takes us a year to show it, then we’ll take a year to do it,” Buzbee said. “And to suggest that we can have a trial in August, I would say if we are going to have a real trial, if we are really going to have a trial, it is going to take a lot longer than that. I would also suggest that if we want to have a real trial, we have a lot of work to do between now and August or maybe next August. “

It is not known how the procedure could be delayed. Asked about the mechanism he has at a press conference Wednesday at Republican Party headquarters in Texas, Buzbee said the defense team would find out when they see the Senate rules for the trial.

He prefers that the case be dismissed before being judged.

“No court in this country would even consider it, but if you decide to consider it, it would have to be rejected in a one-page motion,” Buzbee said, addressing the Senate.

Buzbee is known for representing former Governor Rick Perry in a criminal case and, more recently, the victims of the deadly mob rush at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival concert. Houston attorney Dan Cogdell, who is handling an ongoing criminal case, is also representing Paxton.

Several staff members of the Texas Attorney General’s office have taken time off to help with the proceedings, the conservative news site The Daily Wire first reported.

“Paxton is innocent of these charges,” Cogdell said Wednesday. “Let’s not let this get lost in the weeds. He is absolutely 100% innocent of the charge.

House impeachment officials announced that Houston attorneys Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin would prosecute the case.

“It’s not about punishing Mr. Paxton. This is about protecting the public, protecting the citizens of Texas,” DeGuerin said at a June 1 press conference.

articles of impeachment

On May 27, the Texas House voted to send 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton to the Senate for trial. Articles include disregard of official duty, misrepresentation in public records, constitutional bribery, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and attempted conspiracy, misuse of public resources, embezzlement of public resources, dereliction of duty, unfitness for office and abuse of public trust.

Several of the articles deal with allegations that Paxton abused his office to help campaign contributor, real estate investor Nate Paul. Four former employees filed a related whistleblower complaint. The House General Investigative Committee began its probe into the Attorney General after Paxton agreed to settle the whistleblower’s lawsuit with more than $3 million in taxpayer dollars. Funds are subject to legislative approval.

Some of the articles also date back to Paxton’s ongoing securities fraud case. He was charged in 2015, but did not stand trial in that case.

On Wednesday, Paxton’s lawyers reiterated concerns about the impeachment process in the House, including arguments that it lacked due process, relied on hearsay and criticism that Paxton and his team did not were unable to provide a defense. Buzbee called the House’s deliberations a “secret, rushed, kangaroo court.”

“He and the speaker’s supporters thought they could pull off what could only be described as a drive-by shooting on a holiday weekend to politically assassinate one of the leading conservative voices not only in Texas, but also in the United States,” Buzbee said. said.

A spokesman for House Speaker Dade Phelan declined to comment.

They also disputed that Paul paid for Paxton’s kitchen renovations, an assertion in one of the articles, and that Paxton caused delays in his criminal trial, the subject of another article.

Paxton’s impeachment came in the final days of the regular legislative session, with the House voting overwhelmingly for impeachment. Republicans and Democrats contacted by the Star-Telegram after the proceedings said they were not political in nature and the evidence presented warranted a trial.

And after?

The question of whether to convict is now in the Senate, where lawmakers will act like a jury of sorts.

On the last day of the session, the House announced its impeachment officials, including Fort Worth Republican Charlie Geren, and the Senate set a general timetable for the trial. Republican Junction Representative Andrew Murr, one of the House impeachment officials and chairman of the House General Investigative Committee, said he expects the proceedings to proceed as a civil trial or criminal.

“The trial is supposed to proceed as a civil or criminal trial would,” he said at a press conference on May 29. “You will see witnesses called, placed under oath, subjected to both direct examination and cross-examination. The rules of evidence are supposed to apply, and the parties, through counsel, would present counsel’s arguments and objections.

Lt. Governor Patrick, president of the Texas Senate, largely refrained from commenting on the Senate lawsuit. One outstanding question is whether Paxton’s wife, Senator Angela Paxton, will recuse herself from the proceedings.

At a Texas Public Policy Foundation event on May 30, Patrick outlined procedural expectations that appeared to mirror Murr’s. Patrick said he anticipates witnesses will be called and the proceedings will proceed as a “regular trial”. At the end of the trial, once the facts have been established, the senators will vote, he said.

“To all our friends in the media, please don’t ask me any more questions because I can’t answer them,” Patrick said. “Look at me like a judge in front of a case and look at our senators like that.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has tapped former Texas Secretary of State John Scott of Fort Worth to serve as acting attorney general.

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