Paxton tries his whistleblower deposition luck with SCOTx

This should be the end of the line, one way or another.

A crook any way you look

Embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the Texas Supreme Court to shield him from being deposed in an ongoing whistleblower lawsuit filed by four former agency employees. The former aides say they were wrongfully fired in retribution for complaining to federal authorities about Paxton’s possible misconduct in helping a friend and campaign donor.

Paxton’s appeal to the state’s high court, which was filed Monday, comes after an appeals court on Friday evening rejected the same motion, affirming a district court’s previous ruling to compel his and several of his high-ranking deputies’ testimony in the case.

The 3rd Court of Appeals’ ruling Friday also allows the whistleblowers to continue their lawsuit after a proposed $3.3 million settlement agreement fell apart when the Legislature last year refused to pay for it.


Over the course of four appeals seeking to stop the whistleblowers from continuing their suit and to quash his court-ordered testimony, Paxton has argued that he complied with the nonmonetary elements of the settlement agreement — such as removing a disparaging news release about the whistleblowers and making a public statement that the former top aides in his office had acted with good intention in complaining about him to the FBI — and that the Legislature’s refusal to foot the bill should not warrant continued settlement talks or a trial.

“And, like any legislation, settlement funding can take more than one session to pass,” Paxton’s attorneys argued in their Monday appeal to the Supreme Court.

In a response filed Tuesday to Paxton’s latest appeal, the whistleblowers’ attorneys disagreed with the Office of the Attorney General’s assessment, arguing the terms of the previous agreement were never met and that lawmakers, who adopted a provision to bar state appropriations from funding a settlement, have no interest in paying for the initial agreement.

“The Legislature considered and rejected OAG’s request for funding, and even added a rider to the appropriations bill forbidding OAG from settling this case with taxpayer funds,” the attorneys for the whistleblowers wrote in their response.

The whistleblowers also are painting Paxton’s argument to maintain the original settlement agreement and bar his testimony in the case as tired and repetitive after previous courts have rejected the attorney general’s same argument on the path to appealing to the Supreme Court.

“If OAG’s arguments seem familiar, that is because this Court has considered them before,” the whistleblowers wrote, referencing a September Supreme Court ruling that lifted an abatement on the case, allowing for settlement negotiations to continue.


Despite Soifer’s ruling that the plaintiffs showed “good cause” in seeking to compel Paxton’s deposition — along with those of First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster, Paxton’s chief of staff Lesley French Henneke and senior adviser Michelle Smith — Paxton’s team argues that his testimony is not warranted and that “less intrusive means of discovery” should be prioritized.

Under Soifer’s order, Paxton and his deputies are required to provide their depositions by Feb. 9, but not prior to Jan. 16.

See here for the previous update. Note how Paxton filed his Supreme Court appeal on Monday after getting ruled against by the Third Court of Appeals on Friday. I’m guessing there was a lot of copy/paste involved there. I would expect another quick ruling – today is Friday, so keep an eye on the internets this afternoon, as that’s always a popular time for this sort of thing. KXAN has more.

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One Response to Paxton tries his whistleblower deposition luck with SCOTx

  1. Pingback: It’s official, Paxton will get deposed | Off the Kuff

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