AUSTIN (CN) – Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will appear in court Friday to ask a judge to throw out the felony abuse of power charges against him.
Perry’s 14-year stint as Texas’ longest-serving governor ended Tuesday when his successor, Gov. Greg Abbott, was sworn in. Perry did not run again, as he mulls a second presidential run in 2016.
Visiting Judge Bert Richardson has yet to rule on motions to dismiss that challenge the constitutionality of the charges.
Perry was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.
The 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.
Perry claims that his actions were in line with the Texas governor’s veto authority and that the charges are a violation of his free speech.
In a slew of legal filings since the August indictment, Perry’s attorneys have claimed that the charges should be dismissed and the prosecution barred because the governor had a duty to exercise his veto power.
Judge Richardson already has rejected defense arguments that the special prosecutor in the case, San Antonio attorney Michael McCrum, was acting illegally based on procedural issues surrounding his oath of office.
The judge refused to dismiss the charges in a Nov. 18 ruling, the first and only ruling handed down since the indictment.
Richardson, elected in November to the state’s highest criminal court as a Republican, was recently reappointed to preside over Perry’s criminal case. Presiding Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield of Texas’ Third Administrative Judicial Region signed the order last week, allowing Richardson to continue his role in the case, in addition to his duties on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Perry last appeared in court on Nov. 6, 2014. He entered the courtroom through a back entrance and quietly sipped on coffee while he listened to nearly two hours of arguments about technicalities.
Through it all Perry, has insisted that he would not let the criminal case derail his presidential aspirations because he is able “to multitask pretty good.”
Perry’s hearing is set for Friday at 9 a.m. in Travis County’s 390th District Court.
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