The Texas Tribune has published an interesting primer on the complexities of Texas law, its constitution and whether the state’s attorney general can keep his job even if he’s convicted of a felony.
Here’s the link. I encourage you to take a look at it and then try to decide what you think about it.
Ken Paxton, a Republican, has been indicted in Collin County on three felony counts alleging securities fraud. He just took office as Texas attorney general in January. He vows to plead not guilty. He won’t quit.
I don’t think he needs to resign as AG while the case is being adjudicated. But if he’s convicted? To me, it’s a no-brainer. Hit the road, Ken.
The Tribune reminds us of a curious quirk in the Texas Constitution, which is that judges and other judicial officials do not have to be practicing lawyers when they take office, although they do need good standing as members of the State Bar of Texas.
Some years ago, Potter and Randall County voters elected the late Hal Miner to preside as judge in the 47th District Court. Miner hadn’t practiced law, as such, for more than two decades. He ran a family business, but stayed active in the state bar.
The question that Paxton could face involves whether he’d lose his license to practice law if he’s convicted of a felony. If he does, then he cannot serve as the state’s top legal counselor. But as the Tribune reports, the law license and a possible felony conviction are separate issues.
I believe a conviction should compel Paxton to quit — if for no other reason than his credibility as the state’s top law enforcer would be blown apart if a jury finds him guilty of, um, breaking the law.