AG Paxton’s attorneys want judge to deny State’s motion for delay

Ken Paxton in an interview with KXAN's Phil Prazan (KXAN Photo)
Ken Paxton in an interview with KXAN's Phil Prazan (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Attorneys for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have issued a response to the State’s motion to push Paxton’s trial date back.

The State filed the motion for continuance to trial on Sept. 25. The trial date was moved to Dec. 11, 2017 after Judge George Gallagher was disqualified from the case.

Paxton’s attorneys say the delay should be denied because their client has “been ready and anxious for his day in court” and he has “asserted his right to a speedy trial.” The defense claims the prosecution has “attempted to further delays the proceeding” and the attorneys pro tem are “repeatedly grumbling about their fees.”

The prosecution is putting a good portion of the delay on Paxton, stating it’s because of his “insistence on filing a series of pre-trial writs and motions to dismiss.” The State’s motion claims these pre-trial filings added at least a year to the litigation process.

The State says Hurricane Harvey’s impact to the Harris County Criminal Justice Center has made it “virtually impossible for the case to be tried in December.” The State’s third and final reason for the delay is because of the attorneys’ fees. The motion states because the undersigned attorneys pro tem have already used their own money for travel in the case and haven’t been reimbursed, the attorneys are limiting their number of hours on the case.

In the defense’s response, they slam attorney pro tem Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer for their recent vacations and state that they’ve been paid upwards of a quarter million dollars. “Regardless, it seems he [Kent Schaffer] hasn’t been preparing for the Paxton matter.” The attorneys pro tem are part of an ongoing lawsuit to prevent payment for their services.

The trial was originally set for May 1, 2017. A change of venue was granted, which pushed the case to Sept. 11 and then the December date.

The attorney general was indicted in 2015 over allegations he duped investors in a tech startup before taking office. He’s pleaded not guilty. Paxton faces 5 to 99 years in prison if convicted.

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