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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Felony Trial Likely for|Texas AG Ken Paxton

McKINNEY, Texas (CN) - A Texas judge Saturday denied 10 dismissal motions from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, paving the way for trial on felony securities fraud charges that could send him to prison for life.

State District Judge George Gallagher rejected four applications for habeas corpus and six motions to quash. All 10 orders were 1 page long and did not elaborate on Gallagher's legal reasoning.

In denying the habeas petitions, Gallagher was not persuaded that the charges against Paxton were unconstitutionally vague or that the grand jury was improperly paneled.

In denying the motions to quash, he was not persuaded by arguments that a judge who recused himself had "compromised the integrity" of the indictment process or that the prosecution had "improperly brought" the indictments.

Paxton's attorney William Mateja, with Fish Richardson in Dallas, said Friday evening that he was disappointed with the rulings.

"We believed each of the motions was well founded," Mateja said in a statement. "We are currently reviewing whether to appeal the court's denial of our applications for writ of habeas corpus and will make that decision in the near future."

Paxton's attorneys targeted state District Judge Chris Oldner in asking for dismissal, claiming he'd entered the grand jury room and asked prospective jurors if they wanted to serve, and sent home those who did not.

"The harm of this case is that the conduct of Judge Oldner robbed this grand jury of randomness," defense attorney Dan Cogdell said during a Dec. 1 hearing. "He did not have discretion to recuse people who were not yet qualified."

Oldner recused himself because he oversaw the seating of the grand jury.

Paxton's attorneys claimed Oldner violated grand jury secrecy by telling his wife about the indictments before they were made public. His wife allegedly told a Collin County commissioner about them and told her to not discuss it because they were not public yet.

Oldner this month denied any wrongdoing during grand jury selection and denied that he is "out to get" Paxton.

He recused himself in July after seating the grand jury that charged Paxton, a fellow Republican, with two first-degree felony counts of securities fraud and a third-degree felony count of failing to register with the Texas State Securities Board. If convicted, Paxton faces a possible life sentence .

Paxton is accused of fraudulently selling more than $100,000 in Servergy stock to two investors in July 2011 without disclosing that he would be paid commissions on it. He also failed to disclose that he had been given 100,000 shares in the company but had not invested in the company himself, according to the indictment.

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