A Dallas appeals court on Wednesday upheld Attorney General Ken Paxton’s three felony fraud indictments, a decision he is likely to appeal to the highest criminal court in the state.
“We are gratified but not surprised that just three weeks after oral argument, the en banc court of appeals unanimously concluded that Mr. Paxton’s claims were clearly without merit,” the special prosecutors handling the case said. “We are confident that the Court of Criminal Appeals will reject Mr. Paxton’s next round of appeals as surely and as swiftly as the court of appeals did today.”
In its decision, the 5th Court of Appeals said three of the arguments Paxton used to challenge his indictments could not be considered at this point in the legal process. The fourth argument, it said, was invalid.
Paxton’s first three arguments dealt with whether the judge who empaneled the grand jury that indicted him had done so improperly. The fourth argued that one of the state laws Paxton is accused of violating is unconstitutional and trumped by similar federal law.
“Having concluded that appellant’s first, second and third issues are not cognizable on pretrial habeas and that appellant’s fourth issue lacks merit, we affirm the trial court’s orders denying the relief sought by appellant,” Chief Justice Carolyn Wright wrote in the court’s opinion.
Paxton’s attorneys have not decided whether to appeal the Dallas court’s decision, but they issued a statement Wednesday making clear they disagreed with the ruling.
“The Court did not hold that Mr. Paxton’s main claims were without merit, rather were premature at this stage of the proceedings,” attorney Philip Hilder said. “Respectfully, we disagree that these fundamental flaws cannot be challenged pretrial and will evaluate in coming days whether to raise these issues with the Court of Criminal Appeals.”
See here and here for some background. The full 5th Court of Appeals heard the case, so there’s no intermediate step to take before going to the Court of Criminal Appeals. Arguments before the 5th were heard less than three weeks ago, so to say the least this was a quick decision on their part. The peg that Team Paxton will hang its hat on is that for three of their four arguments, the 5th Court made no ruling on the merits, just that now was not the time to make those arguments. If I had to guess, I’d say the CCA will rule the same way, but you never know with those guys. The bottom line is that we’re another step closer to a trial. The Trib has more.