Ken Paxton’s long-awaited first day in court

Literally years in the making.

A crook any way you look

Impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton moved a small step closer to trial Thursday on long-delayed felony securities fraud charges, though both sides agreed his Senate impeachment trial looms large as a factor.

Meeting briefly in a Houston courtroom with a new judge in the case, defense lawyers and prosecutors agreed Thursday to return Oct. 6 to deal with pending motions and set a trial date for the 2015 charges alleging that Paxton violated state securities laws in private business deals earlier in the decade.

“At some point it has to come to an end,” special prosecutor Brian Wice told reporters afterward. “I think today was the first step in a journey of a thousand miles to make sure that justice ultimately comes to be.”

Paxton attended the short pretrial setting before state District Judge Andrea Beall. He sat in the front row but did not speak.

Another special prosecutor, Kent Schaffer, said he anticipated a trial date “probably early in the winter, probably around February.” But both sides agreed they needed to first see the result of Paxton’s impeachment trial before the state Senate. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said he expects the trial, set to begin Sept. 5, will take up to three weeks.

“I think the consensus was we figure out what happens at the impeachment trial and we go from there,” Paxton lawyer Dan Cogdell told reporters afterward. “Either way, we’ll be back here in early October.”

If Paxton loses the impeachment trial — and is permanently removed as attorney general — he is more likely to seek a quicker resolution in the securities case, both sides agreed.


The judge, Beall, required Paxton to appear for Thursday’s hearing. Cogdell said he was fine with that, noting Paxton’s “not special.” But Paxton used a special entrance to access the courtroom, which Cogdell said he advised Paxton to do because of the gag order barring comments on the impeachment trial.

Speaking with reporters after the minutes-long hearing, both sides agreed that the outcome of the impeachment trial could affect the securities fraud case.

“Logically, if Ken prevails, we’ll go forward,” Cogdell said. “If Ken loses, that’s a kill shot to his political career, so it opens the door to a resolution that’s not open right now.”

Asked what that resolution could be, Cogdell replied, “Dismissal, settlement, resolution — who knows.”

Another wrinkle could be the U.S. Department of Justice investigation into whether Paxton abused his power to help Paul. Cogdell told the judge he understands the investigation is “ongoing” but told reporters afterward he thinks it “will go nowhere at the end of the day because I’m familiar with the facts.”

Regardless, both sides were pleased the case appeared to be finally moving again — and the courtroom appearance was full of playful reminders. When Beall noted this was the oldest case on her docket, one of the lawyers feigned surprise. And while discussing discovery, one of the prosecutors said the case is so old that when they previously turned over evidence, it was on CDs.

See here for the background. As a reminder, in between the impeachment trial and the next hearing in the securities fraud trial, Paxton will also be dealing with his State Bar disciplinary lawsuit, for which there will be a hearing. Sleep well these next few weeks, asshole.

The Chron adds on.

The hearing Thursday was mostly procedural, and both sides agreed to return Oct. 6 to discuss pre-trial matters, including an ongoing dispute over how much special prosecutors are being paid. Special prosecutors Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer predicted the case could finally go to trial in the winter, though one of Paxton’s defense attorneys said a removal vote could prompt them to agree to a settlement.


The prosecutor pay issue will still need to be resolved before the case can get going in earnest. The debate centers on how much they ought to be paid and whether Harris County or Collin County taxpayers will be on the hook.

In another sign of how a Harris County setting could make a difference, Beall made clear Thursday that she believed Collin County taxpayers are responsible. She also said she would settle that matter in a private meeting with prosecutors, cutting defense attorneys out of the discussion entirely despite their pleas for “transparency” around the issue.

And back to the Trib on this matter, which was as much a cause for delay as the venue question was:

It dates back to the early months of the case in 2015, when Paxton lawyers challenged the $300-an-hour fee — approved by the judge in the case — as excessive but were unsuccessful. A Paxton supporter, Jeff Blackard, followed with a lawsuit arguing that Collin County was paying the prosecutors too much, and county commissioners balked at the fee arrangement and voted against paying the prosectors.

The issue eventually reached the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which in 2018 struck down the fee agreement, ruling that it violated state law and Collin County rules — but the court also ordered a new payment schedule to be adopted that complies with the law.

In 2019, the prosecutors filed a motion asking the Harris County court to set a payment plan in accordance with the ruling, but that motion has languished without resolution.

On Thursday, Wice noted that the prosecutors had not been paid since January 2016. He said they were “cautiously optimistic” that the issue would be resolved at the Oct. 6 hearing.

I genuinely look forward to the day when Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer present a ginormous bill for their services to Collin County. My only regret is that Rep. Keith Self, the former Collin County Judge who abetted this scheme to defund the special prosecutors, won’t be there to take his share of responsibility for it. It will still be sweet. Texas Monthly and the Press have more.

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3 Responses to Ken Paxton’s long-awaited first day in court

  1. J says:

    Just a note, the website is not displaying properly, the left margin is different and the right hand sidebar below the calendar is missing, instead there is a note about a critical error. This is the same with several different browsers and devices, Apple and Microsoft.

  2. C.L. says:

    J, I’m seeing the same issue(s) myself.

  3. Thanks, fellas. I’m aware of the issue, it seems to be an incompatibility between PHP version 8.1 and my WordPress theme. I’m trying to figure out the best solution, it may take me a few days. But I am working on it. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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