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Perry’s lawyers ask again for indictments to be tossed

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

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Attorneys for Gov. Rick Perry, indicted last month on charges related to his veto threat of money for the Travis County District Attorney’s office, have filed another request for a judge to throw out the case.

The motion to dismiss the indictment filed Monday makes many of the same claims as a previously filed writ of habeas corpus and largely cites “Constitutional grounds.”

The petitions contend the “Texas Constitution imposes no limits on the governor’s right and duty to veto; he exercises unbounded discretion in exercising his veto power, subject only to the Legislature’s right to override that veto,” among many other claims.

They also contend that the prosecution threatens to violate Constitutional separation of powers and said that Perry, in vetoing the money, was acting in his legislative capacity.

“Nothing in the Texas Constitution or law permits the judicial department to scrutinize Governor Perry’s legal decision,” the Monday filing said.

Yes, there was a similar motion filed last month. The Trib explains the logic behind the double filing.

“They say the same thing but they’re very different things,” explained Philip H. Hilder, a Houston defense attorney. “The writ is saying the judge doesn’t have the authority to move forward on the indictment, while the motion to dismiss is acknowledging that the court has the authority to act on indictment but it ought to be dismissed as a matter of law.”

In effect, the lawyers are asking the judge to toss the indictments no matter how he rules on the court’s authority to proceed.

Paul Coggins, a Dallas attorney said filing both challenges is just good lawyering.

“If you can’t get through the front door, you go through the back door,” Coggins said. “I think they’re covering their bases.”

Yes, it’s good lawyering. And those hours ain’t gonna bill themselves, if you know what I mean. But wait, there’s still more.

While both challenges — the motion to quash and the habeas writ — may make the same arguments, but the order in which siting Judge Bert Richardson considers could make a big difference in the pace of the proceedings.

“We hope the court will consider them both at the same time,” Buzbee said. “The grounds are essentially the same but this filing gives the court the ability to dismiss completely both counts of the indictment if he feels some issues are better addressed via a dismissal motion rather than a writ.”

The judge’s decision on the motion to quash cannot be appealed by the defense, Hilder said. His decision on the writ can be and an appeal could freeze action on the case for months.

“The danger of filing the writ here is the losing party will appeal, and that is going to slow matters to a griding halt for a while,” Hilder said, adding that all action in the trial court would stop until the appeals court makes its ruling on the writ.

So settle in and get comfy, because this could take while. The next hearing is October 13, and while special prosecutor Mike McCrum will file a response to this motion, he doesn’t have a specific deadline and may well not get to it by then, since there’s not much expected to happen on that date. The Chron and Trail Blazers have more.

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