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Paxton attorneys call on Senate to follow due process prior to impeachment trial

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(The Center Square) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attorneys on Wednesday submitted a motion to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick requesting the Senate follow due process procedures prior to the impeachment trial scheduled to begin Sept. 5.

The Texas House has refused to turn over any information required by law, Paxton’s lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, said on Wednesday. He made the claim after Paxton’s attorneys from Stone Hilton PLLC submitted a motion for a pretrial scheduling order on July 7. They asked Patrick, who’s presiding over the trial, to set a pretrial discovery schedule and require all parties to follow it. Patrick hasn’t yet issued a ruling on the motion, a spokesman for Paxton’s attorneys told The Center Square.

In all U.S. legal proceedings, the prosecution is required to disclose evidence to the accused. Scheduling orders help both parties comply with Texas civil rules of procedure and make sure due process isn’t violated.

The House managers, appointed by Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, have refused to provide Paxton’s attorneys with any information, Buzbee said.

“The House Managers appointed by [Speaker Dade] Phelan, including Andrew Murr, continue to disregard individual rights and due process guaranteed by the United States and the Texas Constitution by withholding basic information they are legally required to disclose,” Buzbee said. “We have demanded this information to which Attorney General Ken Paxton is entitled. In every court in the country, this type of information would be freely exchanged by prosecutors, and we have demanded that it be produced. The House has ignored our demands and the Attorney General’s constitutional rights.

“Due to these refusals, the House Mangers have abandoned the rule of law and have demonstrated nothing but contempt and disrespect for the Texas Senate as they openly mock the process and rules adopted by the upper chamber,” he said. “It is imperative that the Senate take immediate action to force the House Managers to follow the law.”

Paxton’s attorneys have maintained that the House impeached Paxton with no evidence, “and now they are desperate to manufacture new charges,” Buzbee said. “Apparently they want to saddle the Senate with weeks of testimony over baseless allegations. While the House is trying to cover their tracks, I hope the Senate will embrace transparency and order Phelan’s disciples to follow the law and disclose required information to the defense.”

House managers have not responded to requests for comment from The Center Square.

Patrick has told reporters not to ask him or any senators about the trial because Senate rules announced June 22 prohibit them from discussing it.

Paxton’s attorneys recommended a scheduling order, establishing pretrial deadlines.

“Scheduling orders are entered to govern pretrial proceedings for most cases in every Texas state or federal court,” they wrote in their July 7 letter to Patrick. “Because of the House’s ongoing intransigence regarding providing minimal disclosures to Attorney General Paxton, and in light of the Senate’s unintentional oversight in not providing for a pretrial discovery schedule, a scheduling order is necessary to ensure a full and fair trial consistent with Attorney General Paxton’s rights under the United States Constitution and Texas Constitution to due process and due course of law.”

They also requested the Senate schedule a pretrial conference on or before July 14. One deadline they proposed of July 11, which already passed, would have required the House to disclose all materials listed in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 38.14.

Their proposed deadlines govern when all motions must be filed, including to amend or supplement the House’s pleadings, to squash the Articles of Impeachment, request subpoenas, submit responses to the Articles of Impeachment, pretrial motions, among others.

By not following basic due process and procedural rules, Buzbee says, “Phelan’s Managers are openly mocking the intent of the Texas Senate to have a fair and open proceeding, and are clearly withholding information that would routinely be disclosed. It is critical the Senate enforce our constitutional guardrails to prevent further institutional damage inflicted by the Texas House.”

Prior to the Senate rules being announced, former Tarrant County J udge and Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, D-Austin, also expressed concerns, saying the rules fell “short of fair trial procedures.”

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