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Paxton moves to dismiss the charges against him

To be expected.

Best mugshot ever

[Ken] Paxton’s legal team announced late Monday it had filed six motions to quash the three indictments against him, citing problems with the grand jury process. They also raised other objections to the case in four pretrial applications for writ of habeas corpus.

A Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton earlier this year on charges of misleading investors in a technology company before he was attorney general. Paxton pleaded not guilty.

Paxton’s legal team has raised the prospect that the grand jury was “empaneled in a matter inconsistent with law.” Last month, his lawyers won access to information related to the makeup of the panel.

The special prosecutors handling the indictments have maintained “absolutely nothing improper” happened in the formation of the grand jury. In a statement late Friday, special prosecutor Brian Wice said the motions to quash are “so clearly baseless, neither merits comment.”

A copy of the motions can be found at the DMN Scoop blog, which contains some other interesting tidbits.

Among the allegations in the motion to quash are that [District Judge Chris] Oldner [who oversaw the selection of the grand jurors in Collin County who indicted Paxton] breached the secrecy of the grand jury process by telling his wife that Paxton had been indicted. His wife, Cissy Oldner, then told Collin County commissioner Susan Fletcher about the sealed indictments, according to allegations in the defense’s motion.

Oldner also is accused of entering the grand jury room two separate times during the July 7 session when Paxton was indicted on the charge of failing to register as a securities agent. The defense team also states that Oldner improperly held onto that July 7 indictment until July 28.

The judge, who ultimately recused himself from the case, also issued warrants for Paxton’s arrest rather than allowing him to appear by summons. “It is reasonable to deduce that this was a vindictive action meant to publicly embarrass and humiliate Paxton,” the defense motion states.

[…]

Among the other motions filed late Monday:

– One accused the special prosecutors of improperly providing details to the media about the evidence going before the grand jury. The special prosecutors are also accused of improperly leaking details from the July indictments to media before the indictments were unsealed. The defense motion calls the media interviews and leaks “a clear attempt to taint the potential criminal jury pool.”

– One alleges the indictment for failure to register as a securities agent must be quashed because the three-year statute of limitations on prosecution had passed. The indictment came July 7. Any solicitation by Paxton occurred on or before June 26, 2012, according to the defense team’s motion.

– Two motions sought to quash the indictments because they failed to give adequate notice of specific charges against Paxton and failed to state the specific offense. For example, according to the motion, the indictment failed to say whether Paxton had solicited potential clients or advised existing clients. In another example, the securities fraud indictments allege Paxton was compensated with 100,000 shares of Servergy stock in each of the two instances. But Paxton had only 100,000 shares total, creating an inconsistency that should prompt the indictments to be quashed, the defense argued.

– One moved to quash the indictments because the cases were not referred by the Texas State Securities Board, which has primary jurisdiction over security offenses. The motion also argued that Paxton was already sanctioned by the securities board for failing to register as a securities agent. Seeking criminal charges for the same action would constitute double jeopardy, the motion alleged.

This story provides more details of the defense’s claims, as well as some analysis of their chances for success.

“There is a perception that there are people that are in the pro-Paxton camp,” said Plano attorney Todd Shapiro, who is the son of former Republican state Sen. Florence Shapiro, who was succeeded in her Senate seat by Paxton. “There are others that are in the anti-Paxton camp.”

Paxton’s attorneys accuse Oldner of tainting the grand jury process by violating the secrecy of the panel by talking to his wife about the indictments. Rumors about the judge’s wife and potential judicial misconduct have been circulating for months. Paxton’s supporters have accused the judge of being out to get the attorney general.

[…]

In the affidavit, [Collin County Commissioner Susan] Fletcher describes herself as a longtime friend of Paxton. She also says Cissy Oldner helped with her successful campaign for election to county commissioner. The motion also includes text messages between Oldner’s wife and Fletcher in the weeks before the July indictments.

“Your friend Paxton has not had a good week,” Cissy Oldner said in a text. And later that same night: “This is exactly what we told you was going to happen to Paxton. It’s worse than we ever thought. Over 100k. Ouch.”

Cissy Oldner described herself in a text as “gloating,” presumably over Paxton’s legal troubles. At the time, a grand jury overseen by her husband was beginning to hear evidence against Paxton.

“I understood Cissy’s comments to mean Paxton’s case was not going well for him,” Fletcher wrote.

In her affidavit, Fletcher describes the events that took place on July 28 — the same day that a grand jury handed down twin securities fraud indictments against Paxton. She said Cissy Oldner told her about the indictments around 4:48 p.m.

“I replied to her that I was sorry to hear about Mr. Paxton’s indictment, but did not want to be involved in the matter,” Fletcher wrote. “Cissy reminded me that she had warned me this was going to happen.”

Fletcher said she asked if Judge Oldner was going to recuse himself from the case. Cissy Oldner replied that he would not, she says in the affidavit.

“Cissy also said this was a controversial case, and people will be wondering if the prosecution was politically-motivated,” the affidavit quotes Fletcher as saying. “Cissy encouraged me to remind everyone that this is the process, and the legal process needs to play out. Cissy continued that this was very embarrassing for our county and for Texas. I told her again that I would prefer to step back and not discuss the matter or comment further.”

A little over an hour later, Fletcher said she got another call from Oldner’s wife, telling her not to tell anyone about the indictments because they were sealed. But it was too late; Fletcher had already told other county officials about Cissy Oldner’s call.

[…]

“If he disclosed even the fact of the indictment to his wife, that’s not proper,” said retired state district Judge Michael Snipes. “Even though it’s his wife, that’s not allowed.”

He also said if Oldner did enter the grand jury room while it was in session — as Paxton’s attorneys have alleged in the motion — then that also was improper.

But if even if it happened, Snipes says, “they can’t show prejudice, and you’ve got to show prejudice to quash the indictment.”

He said he does not believe the Tarrant County judge presiding over the case will toss the indictments based on that motion.

Snipes also said did not see selection of the grand jurors as improper.

There’s more in both stories, so go read the whole thing. Paxton is certainly getting his money’s worth out of his defense team, whether he has to pay for them or not. I’d be interested to hear what the lawyers out there think of the defense team’s filings – do you agree with Judge Snipes and Todd Shapiro, who saw it the same way? What it says to me is that we are in for the long haul. Remember how long it took for the Tom DeLay case to get to trial? (Actually, off the top of my head, I don’t remember how long it took, but thankfully Wikipedia reminds me that it was five years from indictment/arrest to the first day of trial.) Basically, the trial judge will eventually rule on the motions (after the prosecution responds and both sides make oral arguments), then it goes to the district appeals court, then finally the Court of Criminal Appeals. So yeah, we’re probably measuring things in years at this point, meaning my suggestion that an already-convicted Paxton could be on the ballot in 2018 is way too optimistic. We may not even know if he has to go to trial by then. WFAA, the Statesman, and the Lone Star Project have more.

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2 Comments

  1. […] here for the background. My first thought (actually, my second thought after “How can you allude […]

  2. […] here and here for the background, and here for a copy of this motion. I’m not sure what the […]