Judge Refuses to Quash Rick Perry Indictment | Courthouse News Service
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Judge Refuses to Quash Rick Perry Indictment

AUSTIN, Texas (CN) - A Texas judge on Tuesday refused again to throw out the felony abuse of power and coercion charges hanging over former Gov. Rick Perry.

Visiting Judge Bert Richardson, of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, denied Perry's motion to quash and his pretrial application for writ of habeas corpus that challenged the constitutionality of the charges.

It was the second time that Richardson rejected the former governor's attempt to dismiss the charges stemming from a 2013 veto threat of public money. The judge on Nov. 18, 2014 declined to dismiss the charges based on a technicality that Special Prosecutor Michael McCrum was not properly sworn in.

Less than an hour and a half after the court's 22-page ruling, Perry's attorneys filed notice that he would appeal the decision to Austin's Third Court of Appeals.

Houston attorney Tony Buzbee said in a statement that Perry "acted lawfully and properly exercised his power under the law as governor."

"Continued prosecution of Governor Perry is an outrage and sets a dangerous precedent in our Democracy," Buzbee said. "America's commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law is at stake in this case, which is why we will immediately appeal this decision to the Third District Court of Appeals."

A Travis County grand jury indicted Perry on two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.

The Aug. 15, 2014 indictment came after Perry followed through on threats to pull funding from Travis County District Attorney Mary Lehmberg's ethics investigation unit if she did not resign after a drunken-driving arrest.

When Lehmberg, a Democrat, refused, Perry issued a line-item veto that effectively stripped her office's Public Integrity Unit of more than $7 million that had been earmarked by the Legislature during the 2013 session.

Since the early days of the indictment, Perry has maintained that his actions were in line with the Texas governor's veto authority and that the charges violate his free speech.

Hours after Tuesday's ruling, Perry supporters took to social media to slam the court's decision. The former governor's political action committee began using the ruling to rally supporters.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, often mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential hopeful, said in a tweet that Perry's indictment "is a politically motivated farce by unethical people who should be disbarred."

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz called the indictment "a political witch-hunt" and "frivolous."

Perry scheduled a press conference in Austin for Wednesday morning, where he will respond to the ruling.

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