AUSTIN, Texas (CN) – A Texas judge on Friday allowed Gov. Rick Perry to skip his October hearing but came short of allowing a blanket waiver of appearance.
Visiting Judge Bert Richardson said the governor’s presence “is not expressly required” at the Oct. 13 hearing under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, “however, as to all other non-evidentiary pretrial hearings, the motion is denied,” the one-page order says.
“Governor Perry is not precluded from raising the issue of his personal appearance in connection with any future pre-trial settings, and the court will entertain any similar motion or motions if they are filed,” the judge said.
Perry’s attorneys on Monday asked the judge to excuse the governor from all non-evidentiary hearings in his felony corruption trial because he’ll be out of the country during the Oct. 13 hearing.
Special prosecutor Michael McCrum fired back Wednesday with a motion filed saying the governor “should not be treated any different than any other citizen of the State of Texas.”
He called Perry’s motion a request for special favors , and said the governor’s presence in court would help ensure he is aware of the criminal proceedings against him and cannot later object to matters he did not agree with.
“Why should defendant Perry be treated differently?” McCrum said in his objection.
Perry was indicted by a Travis County grand jury in August on two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant, after he 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 drunk-driving arrest.
When Lehmberg, a Democrat, refused, Perry issued a line-item veto of Senate Bill 1 in June 2013, stripping her office’s Public Integrity Unit of more than $7 million that had been earmarked by state lawmakers.
Perry’s legal team asked the visiting judge in the case to throw out the felony charges.
In court documents filed since the indictment, attorneys called the criminal prosecution “an unprecedented assault” on the separation of powers and a violation of Perry’s free speech. The Republican governor called the case “a political act” and vowed to fight the indictment.
Perry’s hearing is scheduled for Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. in Austin’s 390th District Court.
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