Criminal complaint filed against AG Ken Paxton

I should say “another criminal complaint”, this one over his bullying tactics about vote by mail.


Two voting rights advocates have filed a complaint with the Dallas County district attorney, alleging Attorney General Ken Paxton committed voter fraud in each of the state’s 254 counties by contradicting a judge’s order expanding the availability of mail-in voting during the pandemic.

“Attorney General Ken Paxton’s letter intentionally misled Texas elections officials about eligibility to vote by mail,” said Kendall Scudder, one of the complainants. “Mail-in ballots aren’t where the election fraud is happening, it’s happening in the office of our indicted attorney general.”

Travis County District Judge Tim Sulak on April 17 issued a temporary injunction stating that any voter concerned about exposure to the coronavirus can avoid in-person voting and request a mail-in ballot by claiming a disability.

Paxton, a Republican who has argued disability claims should be reserved only for those who currently fall under that category, wrote in a filing that same day that Sulak’s order was automatically stayed when he filed an appeal.


Two attorneys reached by Hearst Newspapers agreed with Paxton’s assessment that the April 17 order was stayed when Paxton appealed.

Any appeal of an order that grants a temporary injunction or denies a plea to the jurisdiction, both of which occurred in this case, places an immediate stay on that order, said Dallas appellate lawyer Chad Ruback. On top of that, the Attorney General’s office noted in its appeal that governmental entities are entitled to automatic stays in this situation, under Texas law.

In the Dallas County case, complainants Scudder and Woot Lervisit, who live and vote in the county, say that under the Texas election code, their complaint should trigger a criminal investigation of Paxton’s conduct.

See here and here for the background. You can see the press release relating to this action here, a copy of the complaint here, and a copy of the tweets submitted as supporting evidence here. This is another one of those times when I don’t feel qualified to evaluate the action, but if as the lawyers quoted in the story indicate, Paxton was correct to assert that the order was stayed, then I don’t know what the case is for action against him. I presume the Dallas County DA is better positioned to answer that question, and we’ll know his answer by the action he takes. In the meantime, it’s at least fun to note the irony of Ken Paxton being tripped up by a voter fraud charge. I don’t expect to get any more out of this than that, but we’ll see.

UPDATE: The DMN notes that Dallas County DA John Creuzot declined comment on the complaint. It also reports that Paxton has asked one of the Houston-area appeals courts to vacate the Sulak ruling. I don’t understand the jurisdiction there, given that the lawsuit originated in Travis County, but that’s all the story says.

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One Response to Criminal complaint filed against AG Ken Paxton

  1. Wolfgang says:

    Re: “It also reports that Paxton has asked one of the Houston-area appeals courts to vacate the Sulak ruling. I don’t understand the jurisdiction there, given that the lawsuit originated in Travis County, but that’s all the story says.”

    As noted previously, the appellate case was transferred to Houston per SCOTX order. The case number is now 14-20-00358-CV. Paxton’s attorney on the case did not actually file a motion (the State is the Appellant), but responded to the Appellees’ emergency motion and asks for lack-of-jurisdiction dismissal on numerous grounds in the State’s merits brief. That’s a weird thing in Texas…. State (AG) gets to butt into a lawsuit involving other parties to defend the integrity of the law (as the AG sees it) thereby becoming a litigant, then moves to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. The denial of the State’s “plea to the jurisdiction” is part of Judge Sulak’s issue in the appeal, and the basis for the automatic stay of further proceedings in the trial court, pending outcome of the appeal. The appellees are trying to the the COA to address the stay issue (and the disputed status of whether the injunction is “superseded” and therefore unenforceable as an emergency matter.)

    Kevin Dubose of Alexander Dubose & Jefferson has just (5/13/2020) filed a notice of appearance as additional counsel for the intervenors aligned with the Democratic Party as Plaintiff (Appellees in the COA). These parties include the League of Women Voters of Texas. Dubose has got former SCOTX Chief Wallace B. Jefferson in his litigation stable, so that might help a bit in raising the profile of the case, not to mention a subsequent SCOTX appeal, should it come to that. It will all have to move quickly. The AG has already filed his brief for “the State” while the emergency motion remains pending.

    The Court has set an accelerated briefing schedule in an order issued yesterday, and the AG has already filed his brief. Harris County said they will file an amicus brief with the findings from the survey of poll workers by Rice U political scientist Robert Stein.

    (I am planning to write a scholarly article about this voting-rights case, so I might have a few more observations shortly)

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