DALLAS (CN) - The judge who recused himself from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's felony case responded Sunday to Paxton's claims that he is "out to get" the indicted official.
Collin County Judge Chris Oldner said Paxton's allegations of judicial misconduct are "completely false." Oldner appeared Sunday on "Inside Texas Politics," on ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.
"I have nothing to gain by being out to get Ken Paxton," Oldner said. "The allegations have no factual basis and there was nothing improper done in this case."
It is rare for sitting judges to grant television interviews or appear on political talk shows to discuss pending cases.
Oldner 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.
Paxton's attorneys want the charges dismissed. They claimed last week in court that Oldner had entered the grand jury room and "robbed this grand jury of randomness." They said Oldner asked prospective jurors if they wanted to serve, and sent home those who declined.
Paxton's attorney Dan Cogdell, of Houston, told Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher that Oldner " did not have discretion to recuse people" who had yet to be qualified.
When asked why he recused himself, Oldner said criminal court judges had already decided weeks before the indictments that they "were likely to recuse ourselves" in the case.
Oldner said he supported Paxton in the past and he did not want "the appearance of impropriety in favor of Ken Paxton to affect how people view" the case.
"I donated to his campaign and he and his family have been to my house for dinner," Oldner said.
Oldner denied that judges had been prohibited from entering the grand jury room under an earlier order.
"When the grand jury proceedings are being conducted - and proceedings are when the grand jury is hearing testimony or deliberating on an indictment - that is when only certain people are allowed in the room," Oldner said.
Paxton's attorneys also accused Oldner of improperly telling his wife about the indictments before they were made public, and said she told a Collin County Commissioner about them.
"There was absolutely nothing improper about what was done," Oldner said. "It is a complete misstatement to say that these indictments were sealed at any time. There indictments were never sealed. The acts of a grand jury after they decide to true-bill a person or not are never kept private. They are public information."
Oldner announced his candidacy several weeks ago for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. He said there have been recent "unprecedented attempts to intimidate the criminal justice system and attack the integrity" of the courts.
"I think right now it's important for strong judges to stand up and push back against those special interest groups that try to influence outcomes," Oldner said.
Oldner cited "dark money special interests" on social media and the shooting of Travis County Judge Julie Kocurek at her home last month as examples.
Kocurek, the presiding felony judge for Travis County (Austin), was attacked in her driveway on Nov. 6 after driving home from a Friday night football game. According to the Austin American-Statesman, someone put a garbage can or bag in the middle of Kocurek's driveway, and when she stopped, "Someone came out of the darkness and fired." Kocurek was wounded by shrapnel and glass. She was hospitalized in critical condition, which was upgraded to stable. Neither the hospital nor the courts have released information on her condition since then.
Oldner called the attack on Kocurek just one of several troubling incidents.
"There have been occasions the past few months where people try to take things that have nothing to do with criminal defendants or criminal cases and try to intimidate and influence outcomes on issues that are not related to the charges they are facing," Oldner said.Follow @davejourno
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