Not much happened, but there are some big questions to address.
The securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton kicked off Thursday in Harris County with no new trial date being set.
Instead, the new judge in the case, Robert Johnson, asked both sides to come back July 27 to continue discussing a potential schedule. Prosecutors pushed to hold off setting a trial date until they can get paid – an issue currently tied up in a Dallas appeals court.
Paxton has had two previous trial dates scrapped due to legal disputes – first over the venue, then over the judge. The hearing Thursday was the first time Paxton appeared before Johnson, the new judge, in the relocated venue of Harris County.
The issue of the prosecutors’ pay has long consumed the case. Collin County commissioners voted last month not to approve payments to the prosecutors and to instead take the dispute to the Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals, where it has not yet been resolved.
“As long as they continue to sue us, our hands our tied,” said one of the prosecutors, Brian Wice. “This is an unprecedented attempt to defund and ultimately derail the prosecution.”
Paxton’s lawyers countered that the payment case could take much longer than the prosecutors were letting on.
“Whether they get their money is not our problem,” Paxton lawyer Dan Cogdell said, adding that the citizens of Texas also deserve a speedy trial. “He is the sitting attorney general.”
See here and here for some background. As the DMN notes, the 5th Court of Appeals says it will issue a ruling in the Paxton prosecutors pay lawsuit sometime after July 19. How much after, we don’t know. Maybe the issue will be moot by the time July 27 rolls around. Modulo further appeals, of course. Judge Johnson has asked both parties to submit procedural timelines of the case by July 7, for that July 27 hearing. Maybe we’ll get some of these questions answered then. The Chron has more.