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Paxton hires new attorneys

Let’s see if he can keep them.

Best mugshot ever

Facing a high-profile securities fraud trial that could cost him his job and land him in prison, Attorney General Ken Paxton has enlisted the help of two top defense lawyers known for their forceful personalities and successes in the courtroom.

Paxton on Thursday announced he has hired high-powered Houston lawyer Dan Cogdell and former state and federal prosecutor Terri Moore of Fort Worth to defend him against three felony indictments. Both have extensive trial experience, and are known for their ability to gain the trust and understanding of juries.

“I believe that I have secured a strong and aggressive team of highly competent and respected attorneys,” the first-term attorney general said in a statement. “I am entrusting them to courageously lead this case, fighting for truth and justice.”


Paxton’s original attorney, former federal judge Joe Kendall, stepped down from the case Aug. 27, the day of his arraignment in a Fort Worth courtroom. State District Judge George Gallagher, the Tarrant County jurist who will preside over any trial, gave Paxton until Sept. 3 to find new legal representation.

Gallagher extended the deadline until Thursday after Paxton initially was unable to secure an attorney.

Special prosecutor Brian Wice, one of a team of three Houston criminal defense attorneys assigned to the case, called Cogdell one of the state’s top lawyers: “Dan’s a great lawyer and a long-time friend, and it’s not a cliché to say he’s an ‘A-list’ lawyer.”

A passionate lawyer who races motorcycles and was once known for wearing cufflinks shaped like buttocks in court, Cogdell’s forceful personality often is on display on and off the job. Early in his career, he shocked himself with a cattle prod in front of a jury to counter an expert witness’ testimony that it could cause a heart attack.

“I was a big frat boy at UT; in hell week, cattle prods are pretty much normal,” Cogdell told the Chronicle in 2004. “But I did have to practice for about four hours. I’m committed to my clients.”

Called “a Texas trial legend” by Best Lawyers in 2014, Cogdell said he preferred to defend his clients rather than settle.

See here for the background. The story goes on to describe Moore, a former First Assistant DA under Craig Watkins in Dallas, as a “pure predator” and “fast, loud, and colorful, going off on harangues about the justice system.” This ought to be a heck of a trial when we finally get to it. It’s not expected to begin for a year, however, so we’ll just have to be patient and be entertained by whatever pretrial motions get filed in the meantime. The Trib and Trail Blazers have more.

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