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Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Rick Perry Prosecutor Sues Texas Attorney General

AUSTIN, Texas (CN) - The attorney pro tem helping to prosecute former Texas Gov. Rick Perry claims his invoices for legal services are judicial records not subject to disclosure.

David Gonzalez sued Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on March 26 in Travis County Court, challenging an open records ruling under the Texas Public Information Act.

Gonzalez was appointed to help attorney pro tem Michael McCrum prosecute Perry on corruption charges.

Perry was indicted by a Travis County grand jury last summer on felony counts of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.

While governor, Perry threatened to cut funding from Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg's ethics investigation unit if she did not resign after a drunken-driving arrest.

Lehmberg refused to resign and Perry issued a line-item veto that stripped her office's Public Integrity Unit of more than $7 million. The Legislature had approved the funding during the 2013 session.

Gonzalez and Michael McCrum both stand in place of Lehmberg, who recused herself from the prosecution of Perry.

Gonzalez says in his complaint that he received an open records request from Trevor Sharon on Dec. 17, 2014, seeking "the amount he had been paid for his work relating to the prosecution of Rick Perry, his hourly wage, and 'any invoices that you have submitted for reimbursement.'"

Gonzalez claims that information "collected, assembled, or maintained by or for the judiciary" is not subject to the Texas Public Information Act.

He said he submitted his invoices to the Travis County Criminal Courts Administration, which is not a governmental body under the Public Information Act, as it is part of the judiciary.

He also claims that the information may be withheld under the Public Information Act because it "deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime," and its release "would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime."

He also invoked attorney-client privilege, saying "(s)ome of the requested information would reveal the mental impressions and legal reasoning of the special prosecutors regarding trial preparation and trial strategies."

Paxton, however, concluded that Gonzalez's invoices "are not judicial records, and thus, subject to disclosure."

Gonzalez seeks declaratory judgment, plus costs.

He is represented by Tim Labadie with the Travis County Attorney's office.

Greg Abbott, who was Texas attorney general when Perry's corruption case began, is now the governor.

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