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Paxton attorneys file motion requesting Bill of Particulars

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(The Center Square) – In addition to filing a motion to quash the articles of impeachment against him, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attorneys also filed a motion requesting a bill of particulars.

The 20 articles of impeachment the House passed “are fatally deficient, particularly in comparison to those that came before,” the motion states, referring to previous House impeachment proceedings.

“None of the Articles provide the Attorney General with constitutionally adequate notice of the charges, and forcing him to proceed on any of these Articles will violate the Texas Constitution and Texas law,” Paxton’s attorneys argue. In the motion to quash, Paxton’s attorneys asked the Senate to require the House to amend the articles or bar the House managers from prosecuting them. If the Senate doesn’t quash them, the attorneys requested the Senate require a bill of particulars.

“Contrary to clear constitutional mandates, a reader is left to guess as to the specific claims the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to support each Article,” the motion states. “The need for specificity and particularity for each Article is of heightened importance in the context of the first impeachment of a statewide elected officer in over a century.”

The articles, which are charging instruments for the impeachment trial, are unconstitutionally vague, Paxton’s attorneys argue. As a result, they make it “impossible for the public to understand the allegations against their Attorney General and for the Attorney General’s legal team to prepare his defense. There are few names, no dates, and none of the details that Texas law requires in a charging instrument.”

Instead, the articles “adopt a ‘kitchen sink’ approach that violates the Texas Constitution,” they argue. “The public, the Attorney General, and the Senate deserve to know what is being alleged in this impeachment trial, and the law requires it.”

A bill of particulars ensures defendants are informed of the charges brought against them in sufficient detail to enable their attorney to prepare their defense.

The motion also compares the level of detail in impeachment charges filed in two previous cases compared to the vague charges levied against Paxton. The articles against Paxton “are fatally deficient, particularly in comparison to those that came before,” the motion states.

The motion requests the Senate to require the House managers to provide particular information for each of the 20 articles. All articles, for example, must include dates of all material events to determine compliance with applicable statutes of limitation. They must also specify the statute or penal code that was allegedly violated, the motion explains.

Article I, for example, should “identify the specific duty of office allegedly violated by the Attorney General, including the specific section of Chapter 123 of the Property Code. It should also identify which employees Paxton “allegedly ‘caused’ to intervene into the litigation in question and how he ‘caused’ them to do so.” It also should identify the alleged harm to a charitable organization and alleged benefit to Nate Paul, a central figure the House alleged is at the heart of the impeachment complaint.

The House never interviewed Paul, deposed Paul, or requested information from Paul as part of its secretive investigation prior to leading up to the impeachment vote.

House managers must identify “each and every act allegedly committed by Attorney General Paxton himself that constitutes the offense alleged in Article I with whom each act was allegedly committed,” the motion states, as well as the date, time, and place of occurrence of each act. They must also identify “the basis, manner, and means that allegedly render the conduct alleged in Article I an impeachable offense.”

For each article, Paxton’s attorneys list between 4 and 8 items that must be identified “with particularity” to explain what, how, when, where, and in some cases, with or against whom, the alleged offense was committed.

The vagueness of the articles “raised far more questions than they answered,” his attorneys argue. Because the impeachment proceedings have constitutional procedural requirements, they argue the Senate “requiring the House to provide a bill of particulars rather than amend the Articles is a fair result that comports with due process and Texas criminal law.”

The House managers have yet to file a response.

According to Senate rules, all pretrial motions are due Aug. 5; answers to pre-trial motions are due Aug. 15. The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 5.

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