[Collin County Commissioners] Court on Thursday urged a Dallas judge to drop a lawsuit seeking to block payment to the special prosecutors. The suit, filed in December by local real estate developer and Paxton donor Jeffory Blackard, should be declared moot because the commissioners already had sent the prosecutors their six-figure check, the county argued.
“Texas law is clear a taxpayer cannot bring an action against a local government to recover funds already expended,” the court argued in a brief to Dallas County Court of Law Judge Mark Greenberg. The lawsuit targets the commissioners court, as well as Kent Schaffer, Brian Wice and Nicole DeBorde, three Houston criminal defense attorneys assigned to prosecute Paxton’s felony securities case.
The county and the prosecutors may be fighting for the same outcome, but that does not mean the court is happy about it.
County Judge Keith Self said the Thursday filing does not mean he will stop fighting to cap or block further payment to the prosecutors. The nearly $255,000 they already have received for their first several months of work is enough, he said.
“We paid it, and it’s done. So, we believe that this issue is complete, but I can’t speak for anyone else’s future actions,” said Self, who earlier this month urged the prosecutors to resign. He wants the district attorney from another county to take over the case, believing that would mean there would be more local oversight of the prosecutors’ bills.
See here and here for the background. I’ve been critical of Judge Self’s efforts, but I do have some sympathy for him and the Collin County Commissioners Court. This is an expense they have no control over, and this trial could be done by another county’s DA instead of a special prosecutor. I don’t know the legal technicalities of that – these cases always seem to be assigned to special prosecutors (“attorneys ad litem”) – but there may be a reason why cases like this are handled this way and not in the manner Judge Self prefers. Perhaps that’s a matter for the Legislature to look at. Be that as it may, given that special prosecutors were assigned, and given how much work has already been done and how much evidence would have to be absorbed by any new players in this game, I say keep things as they are and let it play out till the end, however long that takes. Too bad for Collin County’s budget, but it’s too late to change now.