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Appeals court to determine if Paxton gets a new judge

Hold everything.

Best mugshot ever

A state appeals court has intervened in the securities fraud case against Attorney General Ken Paxton, putting it on hold as his lawyers try to get a new judge.

Hours after Paxton’s team requested that the Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals get involved, the court on Tuesday issued a stay of all proceedings in the case until further notice. The court gave all sides until May 23 to respond to Paxton’s effort to ditch the judge, George Gallagher.

The order by the 5th Court of Appeals means there will no longer be a hearing Thursday in Houston on a prior attempt by Paxton to install a new judge.


In their filing with the 5th Court of Appeals on Tuesday morning, Paxton’s lawyers argued that once Gallagher changed the venue, “he was statutorily prohibited from entering further orders or continuing to preside over the case without the statutorily required written consent of” Paxton and his team.

In a subsequent letter to the appeals court, prosecutor Brian Wice argued the court did not have the jurisdiction to consider Paxton’s request to remove Gallagher. The court has also set a May 23 deadline for Paxton’s lawyers to respond to Wice’s letter.

This is another instance where the news moved faster than I did. Originally, Judge Gallagher scheduled a hearing for Thursday to take up the question of whether he needed to hand the case off to another judge. Then Paxton filed his emergency motion with the 5th Court of Appeals, and then they stepped in. Beneath the fold is all of the blogging I had done on this, which is now mostly of historical value. All I can say at this point is that after all the work Paxton’s team has done to remove Gallagher, it would be hilarious if they get their wish but then don’t get any more favorable handling from whoever succeeds Gallagher. Read on, and the DMN has more.

And on we go.

Best mugshot ever

A hearing will be held in Houston on Thursday to address [AG Ken] Paxton’s effort to force Judge George Gallagher to step down. Paxton, who faces three felony charges of violating state securities laws, has been trying to remove Gallagher from the case since the judge ordered Paxton’s upcoming trials be moved from Collin to Harris County.

Paxton will not need to attend, the judge said Monday, “a conflict with the Attorney General’s schedule that the Court determined to be sufficient to waive his presence.”

Paxton has not given a specific reason for seeking Gallagher’s removal. His attorneys claim Gallagher, a Tarrant County judge, was approved to take on Collin County cases through 2016. Any decisions he made this year after his assignment expired, they argued, are invalid.

[Last] week, Paxton asked Judge Mary Murphy, who appointed Gallagher to his case, to confirm this claim and reverse Gallagher’s decision to move his trials outside of Collin County.

But Murphy told Paxton she did not have the authority to do so. In an email to his attorneys, she wrote that the decision lies with “the trial court and the appellate courts.

Emails obtained by The Dallas Morning News on Friday show Murphy previously confirmed to court staff that Gallagher did not need to renew his assignment in Collin County this year.

“I just confirmed with Judge Murphy that Judge Gallagher does not need a new assignment to Region 1 for 2017. His service in this Region is covered under the assignment to the Region from last year,” Murphy’s clerk wrote in response to an inquiry from Gallagher’s administrative court on Jan. 24, 2017.

See here for the background. Looks like I interpreted the response from Judge Murphy that Paxton needed to take this up with Judge Gallagher first accurately. I think I can guess what will happen in court on Thursday. I would have thought we would have to observe the protocol before Paxton can take his complaint to an appeals court, but it would seem that’s not the case.

Paxton’s lawyers on Monday asked the Dallas-based Fifth Court of Appeals to remove Judge George Gallagher from the case and void rulings he has made since changing the venue for the case earlier this year. The request comes three days before a hearing in Houston on the issue — a hearing that would be called off if the request is granted.


In their filing with the 5th Court of Appeals, Paxton’s lawyers argue that once Gallagher changed the venue, “he was statutorily prohibited from entering further orders or continuing to preside over the case without the statutorily required written consent of” Paxton and his team.

Same argument, new audience. You never know, I guess. Note that Judge Gallagher’s order setting a hearing on Thursday originally required Paxton to be in the courtroom, but I guess he had an important meeting with a donor or something, so he weaseled out of it. Too bad. Anyway, we’ll see what happens on Thursday (spoiler: the request for Judge Gallagher to step aside will be denied by Judge Gallagher), assuming the Fifth Court doesn’t pre-empt it. The DMN has more.

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