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Hotze spews some BS

That could be a perennial headline, like a pinned tweet, but here it’s for a specific purpose.

Conservative activist Steven Hotze said Wednesday he does not know if the former Houston police captain he hired to investigate voter fraud really did detain an air conditioning repairman at gunpoint and direct his associates to search the man’s truck for stolen ballots, as prosecutors alleged a day earlier.

He did not witness the predawn Oct. 19 confrontation with his own eyes, so he chalked up the felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against Mark A. Aguirre as “one man’s word against another man’s word.” The repairman’s truck contained only parts and tools, authorities said.

Hotze did not, however, apply that same skepticism in urging the public to take seriously his claims of a large-scale ballot harvesting operation perpetrated by powerful Houston Democrats that he said Aguirre and around 20 other investigators in his employ had uncovered and then foiled leading up to the Nov. 3 general election.

During a bizarre news conference that began with Hotze accusing Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg of a politically motivated prosecution and concluded with him recommending an unproven drug to ward off COVID-19, the activist alleged that Democrats had attempted to forge hundreds of thousands of mail ballots without providing evidence to support his claims.

Hotze confirmed that he paid Aguirre $266,400 to investigate voter fraud allegations through his group, Liberty Center for God and Country, including more than $211,000 the day after the Oct. 19 incident. And he called the assault charge “bogus,” questioning why Aguirre was not arrested earlier.

“Two months later? Really? … Something smells,” Hotze said.

Hotze said he would not condone Aguirre’s actions if they were proven true, but he called the inquiry from a reporter a “hypothetical.” And he said he was not worried about being legally implicated as the one funding Aguirre’s investigative work.

See here for the background, and here for an update on defendant Mark Aguirre. Challenge accepted, I hope. Nothing would please me more than to see someone slap handcuffs on Steven Hotze. An acceptable consolation prize would be for one of Houston’s fine trial attorneys to sue the bejeezus out of him on behalf of the air conditioning repairman who was threatened and terrorized by Aguirre and whatever other thugs were involved. A multi-million dollar judgment, along the lines of the cases that the SPLC won against various domestic terrorists in the past, would be a fine coda to this story.

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One Comment

  1. Kibitzer Curiae says:

    TOO MUCH COMMON-LAW IMMUNITY, AND TOO MANY SUPREME ENABLERS

    One problem here (with the affidavit of the “investigator” used to support the allegations of a massive vote fraud scheme in pre-election litigation) is that Hotze/Woodfill were and are able to take advantage of judicial proceedings privilege and attorney immunity.

    The Supreme Court of Texas has seen fit to give Texas attorneys blanket civil liability immunity for shady acts committed in the course of lawyering for a client, and allegations made in a lawsuit could not form the basis for *civil* liability on defamation even before. Even perjury is protected. Go figure. It’s one of those many areas of substantive state law where a majority of our common-law jurists on the High Court is the leading policymaking authority. See Youngkin v. Hines, 546 S.W.3d 675 (2018), already cited about 200 times since date of rendition on April 27, 2018.

    REGARDLESSS OF THE WRONGFULNESS OF THE CONDUCT

    As soon-to-be Chief Justice Tracy Christopher explained in the Landry’s Tigers case:

    “When the communication at issue is made by an attorney, the judicial-proceedings privilege is referred to as attorney immunity. Cf. Youngkin v. Hines, 546 S.W.3d 675, 679 n. 2 (Tex. 2018) (explaining, in a case in which an attorney claimed non-liability for acts taken in the course of representing a claim, that “litigation privilege” and “attorney immunity” describe the same doctrine). As a result of attorney immunity, a claim for defamation cannot be based on an attorney’s statement that is related to a proceeding for which the attorney is employed and that is within the scope of that representation. See Cantey Hanger, LLP v. Byrd, 467 S.W.3d 477, 485 (Tex. 2015). If the conduct at issue is of the kind that is within the scope of the attorney’s representation of the client, then the privilege applies, regardless of the alleged wrongfulness of the conduct. Youngkin, 546 S.W.3d at 681 (applying privilege despite allegations that attorney’s conduct was fraudulent); Cantey Hanger, 47 S.W.3d at 485 (same).”

    Landry’s, Inc. v. Animal Legal Def. Fund, No. 14-17-00207-CV, ___ S.W.3d ___, 2018 WL 5075116 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] Oct. 18, 2018, pet. granted and set for oral argument in the Tex. Sup. Ct. on Feb. 2, 2021.)

    WHAT ABOUT COURT-IMPOSED SANCTIONS?

    That would leave the matter of whether Woodfill-Hotze engaged in sanctionable litigation conduct when they made their wild claims about certain named Dems in Harris County and “supported” them with an affidavit of the “hired gun”. But what are the chances of the Supreme Court enforcing high ethical standards under these circumstances? And the very potent tools available to the adverse parties in trial court (the TRCP 91a dismissal rule, TCPA, Rule 13, etc.) don’t appear to even apply in the Supreme Court (unless the Court were to rule otherwise, at least in original proceedings, which is doubtful).

    That’s not to say that there is no legal basis for the Supreme Court to police the behavior of serial litigants and lawyers who present frivolous claims.

    TRAP 52.11. Groundless Petition or Misleading Statement or Record

    “On motion of any party or on its own initiative, the court may — after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond — impose just sanctions on a party or attorney who is not acting in good faith as indicated by any of the following: (a) filing a petition that is clearly groundless; (b) bringing the petition solely for delay of an underlying proceeding; (c) grossly misstating or omitting an obviously important and material fact in the petition or response; or (d) filing an appendix or record that is clearly misleading because of the omission of obviously important and material evidence or documents.” Tex. R. App. 52.11.

    To determine that an affidavit is false, however, would normally require extrinsic evidence, i.e., evidence to prove falsity that is not already in the record before the court in the case in which the affidavit was submitted. The Supreme Court is not in the business of conducting trials or contested evidentiary hearings, so that would be a structural and procedural impediment.

    INHERENT POWER

    Since the lower court have inherent power to sanction litigants before them (independent of authority to sanction pursuant to court rules and statutes), the same presumably applies to the High Court. But, as a practical and matter, where is the political will? Or, shall we say, the juridical will, in this context?

    Not to mention that Justice Devine consistently sides with the Hotze-Woodfill pair, so this faction of the GOP even has its own representative sitting on the court. It’s come to the point where even Justice Blacklock chides Devine for his results-orientation.

    HIGH COURT AS PULPIT

    Another approach would be for the Texas Supreme Court to rise to the occasion and comment — in an opinion denying relief — on the shabbiness of the Hotze-Woodfill filings, or at the least point out that the Court cannot determine the truth of allegations, or determine the credibility of affidavit testimony, even when it exercises original mandamus jurisdiction, and that the purported “facts” in an affidavit purporting to adduce evidence of massive voting fraud in Harris County are hearsay and, as such, deserve not weight.

    What are the chances of that happening?