April 18, 2024

TEXAS IMPEACHMENT DAY 9: AG ‘Followed Classic Guilty Playbook’

“Prosecutors” in the Texas impeachment trial urged during closing arguments that suspended Attorney Ken Paxton “followed the classic guilty playbook – Deflect, Deceive, Demonize.” They urged that Paxton’s defense “blindly ignored the fact that he has ultimately ended up serving one person – himself.”

The defense responded that the impeachment trial was a “joke,” a “political witchhunt,” and “a partisan fight within the Republican Party.”

House Impeachment Managers Chair, State Representative Andrew S. Murr (R-Kerrville), told the senator jurors, “When it came to Nate Paul, Ken Paxton abandoned and betrayed his trust in knowledgeable staff, his conservative principles, and his commitment to family values, the law, and his oath of office.” “He gave the keys to the office [to Nate Paul].”

The defense is “not denying that Ken Paxton did any of the acts alleged; instead, they want you to believe that there was nothing wrong” with continually ignoring the senior staff’s warnings about Nate Paul.

“The House did not come here lightly. We discovered unprecedented abuse in the Texas Attorney General’s Office by Mr. Paxton.” We take an oath to protect the public and “the sacred public trust.” “The Constitution charges us with policing our own. If we don’t keep public officials from abusing the capacities of their offices, then frankly, no one can.”

Murr added, “[Paxton] has no regard for the principles of honor and integrity. He has betrayed us, and the people of Texas, and if he is given the opportunity, he will continue to abuse the power, given to him.”

Murr told the senators that no one told him to say these things, not Karl Rove or George P. Bush.

Dan Cogdell took a well-earned swipe at fellow defense lawyer Tony Buzbee. He told jurors that he was “not going to use the faux rage.”

“Some of the greatest lawyers in Texas could not put together a cogent case that convinced anyone that these things occurred beyond a reasonable doubt.” The evidence just wasn’t there.

Cogdell put a photo of Brandon Cammack on the screen and told jurors, “This is what reasonable doubt looks like in this case.” He argued, “This was a legitimate investigation.” Brandon Cammack was the young Houston lawyer that Paxton hired to investigate FBI and DPS investigators and officials.

Cogdell told jurors he suspected the jurors may not like some of the things Paxton did, but they weren’t crimes. In particular, he urged that it is not a crime to investigate whether a crime had occurred. To investigate the legality of a search is not a crime. “We were born at night, but not last night.” For a former Texas Ranger to say that, “That’s dumber than a bucket of hair,” he said.

He reminded the jurors that this is “not the same standard as a death penalty case – it’s not, it’s not, it’s not.” He finished, “Two words,” “Two Words,” “Not Guilty.”

Texas House Representative Jeff Leech (R-McKinney) finished the impeachment managers closing arguments. Leech, a former close friend of Paxton’s told jurors, “We shouldn’t have to be here.”

Leech urged that members of the Texas House had asked Ken Paxton to come to talk to them; we do not have to go to his private lawyer. “The people of Texas deserved answers.”

Referring to the House impeachment witnesses who were sitting in the Senate Chamber gallery, he said the Texas House hears you and sees you and he acknowledged their personal sacrifices.

Quoting from Martin Luther King, Leech told the jurors to ask themselves not what is “safe, or popular, or politic, but what is right.” “I believe that it is right,  as painful as it might be, for us, and for you to vote, to sustain the articles of impeachment commended to you by the Texas House of Representatives.”

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, President of the Senate, served as the presiding judge of the proceedings. When opening Day 9, Patrick told senators, “We prepared for the last three months to do the very best job that we could to present a fair trial, which I think we have done to both parties during this time.” He explained that he took a judicial boot camp, and they have read thousands of pages of documents on the history of legal proceedings. He added, “We have done the very best that we can.”

Patrick noted this is the third impeachment statewide trial in the history of Texas.

The presiding officer gave an overview of the critical rules of the proceedings, which the Texas Senators passed 25 – 3. He said these rules set out the framework for what is about to happen. He added that this was an unusual proceeding, not a “normal” trial.

An impeachment vote takes two-thirds of the 31 members of the Senate to convict on any article of impeachment. Senator Angela Paxton, the wife of Ken Paxton, is recused from deliberating, casting a vote, or talking to witnesses.

“It only takes a conviction on one article of the 16 articles to remove the Attorney General from office.”

Lt. Gov. Patrick instructed the jurors, ” An impeachment article is not divisible.” “That means the senators must consider each allegation in each article and determine whether the managers have proved each allegation in an article beyond a reasonable doubt before they can consider whether an article warrants removal from office. Then and only then may an article be sustained.” He added, For example, if an article has three allegations and only two can be proved by the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, you are not to vote to sustain an article.

“Even if a member believes the house managers have proven every element of an article beyond a reasonable doubt, the member may only sustain the article if they also believe Attorney General Paxton should be removed from office based on that article.”

Patrick told the jurors that their decisions were to be based only on the evidence “presented in this chamber.” Statements by lawyers and questions by them are not evidence. They were only to consider the testimony and exhibits at trial. Nothing outside of this chamber could be considered. The presiding officer said jurors were not to watch television, open their phones, or open their computers.

Paxton is not required to present any evidence to prove his innocence, and there is no inference of guilt just because the House recommended impeachment.

After approximately one hour each of closing arguments by House Impeachment “prosecutors” and Paxton’s defense, Lt. Governor Patrick read the Senators the jury instructions. In part, to sustain an article means the official is removed from office. The burden of proof is on House Managers to prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt, and the jurors must vote that Paxton should be removed from office.

Patrick ordered the jurors to work until 8 p.m. He added that if the senators had not reached a verdict by Sunday, he would sequester them in their offices. Patrick added, “We have all slept in our offices.”

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She is a trial lawyer who practices criminal defense and family law in East Texas. She was a Texas prosecutor and family court associate judge in Harris County, Texas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *