Yet another State Bar complaint filed against Paxton

Put it on his tab.

Best mugshot ever

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton might have crossed an ethical line after inciting members of the public to pressure The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals into issuing a ruling in his favor.

Micheal Shirk, a retired Austin lawyer caught wind of what Paxton was up to and filed a complaint with the State Bar of Texas.

Paxton’s action violated his duty as a lawyer, his oath to defend the Texas Constitution, and a state law that requires attorneys to practice law honestly, according to a grievance filed Friday by Shirk, as reported by Austin American-Statesman.

Paxton, the Texas attorney general since 2015, requested the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reverse the 8-1 ruling that struck down the law that ended his ability to unilaterally prosecute election law violations.

After being rejected, Paxton turned to media outlets to solicit his followers’ help.


In his grievance to the State Bar, Shirk made three allegations that would result in Paxton losing his Texas law license:

  1. The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, the ethics code governing conduct for judges and lawyers place strict limits on the contact attorneys can have with judges outside of court.
  2. Paxton supported calling the Legislature back for a special session to pass an identical or stronger law than the one struck down by the court.

    This would let him investigate and process voter fraud for at least several years until the Court of Criminal Appeals would “strike it down again,” as reported by Austin American-Statesman.  

    “This undisputed advocacy for an unconstitutional law is a basis for the revocation of Mr. Paxton’s bar license,” Shirk wrote. “There is no greater abuse of public office than to encourage the subversion and suspension of constitutional protections, even if for only ‘several years.’”

  3. When Paxton accused the court of having made the ruling because of political motivations, it was considered “systematic and coordinated misconduct.”

    “These unsupportable, perfidious, and demeaning assertions are especially grave when issued by the highest law enforcement officer in Texas,” Shirk told the State Bar.

See here, here, and here for the background. To say the least, Paxton is used to this. I’m not sure I can fully count all of the complaints that have been lodged against him. Here’s one from 2014, based on the facts that later turned into the everlasting securities fraud charges he’s faced since 2015. There were two from 2016 that were dismissed, one also about the securities issue and one about Paxton advising county clerks that they didn’t have to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the Obergefell decision. There are still two active complaints against him relating to the egregious lawsuit he filed seeking to overturn the 2020 election. I don’t know where they are in the pipeline, but as of September Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick were whining about them on his behalf. The dude attracts trouble like garbage attracts flies.

Do I think any of these complaints are likely to lead to actual consequences for Paxton? No, I don’t. At least, not as long as he’s Attorney General, they won’t. Maybe if he gets bounced in the election, that could happen. If the FBI frog marches him out of his office at some point, maybe. For now, while he’s in a position of power, the furor that would result from him even getting slapped on the wrist is too much. It’s nice to think that the rules do apply to him, but from where I sit I don’t see that happening. The Chron has more.

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