Tag Archives: Collin County grand jury

Preferring AGs who aren’t under indictment

If I might paraphrase Donald John Trump ‚Ķ I prefer attorneys general who aren’t under indictment.

Texas AG Ken Paxton is running for re-election against Justin Nelson. Paxton, the Republican, is favored to win a second term; he is, after all, a Republican running in Texas.

But here’s the thing about Paxton. He has been indicted by a Collin County grand jury on charges of securities fraud.

Paxton goes negative

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this case is that he was indicted by a grand jury in his home county. He represented Collin County as a state representative before he was elected attorney general in 2014. Paxton had a mediocre legislative career before he ascended to higher office.

Indeed, he carried Collin County with 66 percent of the vote on his way to winning the election four years ago. Still, the home folks thought enough of the complaint brought against their former lawmaker to agree to an indictment.

The case is tied up over procedural matters. Paxton hasn’t yet stood trial for the felony charges; if convicted, he faces a potential 99-year prison term.

I just find it weird — even with the presumption of innocence to which Paxton is entitled — that an indicted attorney general would be poised to win re-election. I doubt Nelson will be able to upset Paxton. But still …

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my state’s chief law enforcement officer to operate without the dark cloud of suspicion that hangs over the current attorney general.

Let the Texas AG’s trial commence … and conclude

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took office under a cloud.

The cloud remains. It’s still hovering over the Republican politician. Perhaps a trial jury will remove that cloud — one way or another —¬†beginning Sept. 12.

Paxton is going to stand trial on felony charges of securities fraud. A trial judge moved the case from Collin County to Harris County, apparently believing prosecutors’ contention that Paxton’s legal team had tainted the trial jury pool, giving him an unfair advantage.

The AG is accused of misleading investors prior to his taking office in 2015. If convicted, he faces a potential prison term of 99 years.

This change of venue surprises me mildly. Prosecutors had argued that Paxton’s counsel somehow had sought some unfair advantage, given that the attorney hails from Collin County, just north of Dallas.

Why the surprise? Well, a Collin County grand jury managed to indict Paxton more than a year ago. The grand jurors were Paxton’s homies, too, just as a trial jury pool would have been. The notion that a grand jury would indict a former state legislator from that very county seemed to suggest that the county was capable of producing a qualified panel of trial jurors when the time came for it.

The judge, George Gallagher, saw it differently. That’s his call. Hey, he’s the legal eagle, right?

So, the case moves to Harris County, to Houston. Judge Gallagher has set a 10-day time limit for this case to conclude once the trial commences. Of course, the Sept. 12 start date well could be subject to change — perhaps even multiple changes before Paxton gets this case adjudicated.

Let the trial begin. Paxton deserves the chance to remove the cloud that’s hung over him since before he took office.

For that matter, so do millions of other Texans who¬†believe their state’s chief law enforcer¬†should be above reproach.

Texas AG deserves to stand trial at home

My jaw dropped. My mouth is gaping. I cannot believe what I have just read.

Prosecutors seeking to convict Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is set to stand trial for an alleged securities fraud matter, have asked for a change of venue because they say they cannot get a fair trial in Collin County, a suburban region just north of Dallas.

Why the jaw-drop?

Well, Paxton represented Collin County in the Texas Legislature before he was elected AG in 2014. That’s what made his indictment by a Collin County grand jury all the more remarkable, the way I saw it. This wasn’t a group of liberal activists seeking revenge against a conservative statewide politician. The grand jury was a panel of Paxton’s peers.

Prosecutors need not seek a change of venue, given that a Collin County grand jury brought the charges against Paxton in the first place.

The grand jury indicted Paxton on allegations that he misled investors in a company; the alleged crime occurred before he became attorney general.

I don’t know about you, but I find this allegation of bias against them to be¬†soaked in irony.

As the Texas Tribune reported: “Ken Paxton, like all Texans, has the right to be tried in the County he was charged in,” Paxton lawyer Dan Cogdell said in a statement. “The Special Prosecutors have filed a 60-page pleading trying to thwart that right. That these prosecutors are somehow painting themselves as ‘victims’ of some nonexistent conspiracy is extremely telling.”

I believe the trial court will be able to seat a jury that can determine this case fairly and without bias. Just look at what the grand jury did to bring this case to trial.

The case is set to go to trial on May 1. Let it take place in Collin County.

On to securities fraud trial for Texas AG

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took office under a serious cloud.

Allegations had been leveled at him for securities fraud. Then came a criminal indictment from a Collin County grand jury, comprising individuals¬†Paxton used to represent in the Legislature. Indeed, it’s a good bet many of the grand jurors had voted for him when he ran for AG in 2014.

They indicted him for failing to report that he had benefited from investment advice he had given to clients. This couldn’t be construed seriously¬†as a political witch hunt, given that the indictment came from Paxton’s home county.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Today, though, the state’s highest criminal appellate court — the Court of Criminal Appeals — decided against hearing Paxton’s appeal. The ruling, thus, clears the way for Paxton’s case to head to trial.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/10/12/court-criminal-appeals-declines-hear-paxton-case/

A federal judge earlier had tossed a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint against Paxton.

So, let’s decide this matter once and for all.

According to the Texas Tribune: “Last summer, a¬†Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton on criminal charges of securities fraud and failure to register with the state securities board. He is accused of misleading investors in a company from before he took office as Texas’ top lawyer.”

This isn’t a penny ante case. It involves an individual, Paxton, whose reputation is¬†supposed to be above reproach. It’s the position he holds. As the state’s top lawyer, he shouldn’t have this cloud hovering over him. Neither should the state AG’s office, which is really more important to the rest of us than a single politician’s reputation.

The Tribune reports that a trial could start as early as next spring. If Paxton is convicted, he faces a possible prison term of 99 years.

My own hope is that a court convene a trial as soon as possible so we can put this issue aside — one way or another.

Texas AG seeks to do the seemingly impossible

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton deserves credit for perseverance.

He’s been indicted by a grand jury on charges of securities fraud. Paxton says he’s innocent and has entered a plea to that effect. He’s now taking his case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal appellate court.

He wants the CCA to do for him what it did for former Gov. Rick Perry, when it tossed out an accusation that Perry had coerced a public official by demanding her resignation after she had pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge. Perry had been indicted by a Travis County grand jury and complained that the Democratic-leaning county had stacked the grand jury with Democrats pre-disposed to indict a Republican governor.

Perry made the case to the all-Republican Court of Criminal Appeals.

Paxton’s indictment is quite a bit different.

A Collin County grand jury indicted him on charges that he failed to improperly report personal profit from investment he had given; the Securities and Exchange Commission also has filed a complaint against the AG.

Now, why is this so interesting?

Paxton represented Collin County before he was elected attorney general in 2014. The county is among the more Republican-leaning counties in Texas. I don’t know this, but I’d be willing to bet real American money that many of the grand jurors voted for him as attorney general and also for him when he ran for the Legislature, where he represented Collin County.

The grand jury indicted its home boy, not some political outsider.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/08/03/brief-august-3-2016/

Which makes me wonder whether the attorney general is going to get a favorable ruling from the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Texas AG getting ahead of himself

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Ken Paxton plans to run for re-election in 2018 for a second term as Texas attorney general.

Big deal? Sure it is. The Republican officeholder is facing criminal charges on a couple of fronts, which suggests to me that he’s getting way ahead of himself.

https://www.texastribune.org/2016/04/21/despite-indictments-ken-paxton-plans-run-again/

I get what he’s saying. He’s proclaiming his innocence of charges of securities fraud brought by a Collin County grand jury. What’s more, the Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a complaint against Paxton alleging the same thing.

The man could go to jail if he’s convicted.

What’s getting too little attention here is the context of the indictment that brought the charges against the attorney general.

The panel indicted Paxton for failing to report properly the compensation he received for providing investment advice for friends.

As for the context, let’s remember a couple of critical points. Paxton represented Collin County in the Texas Legislature before running for AG in 2014. The grand jury¬†quite likely included individuals who voted for Paxton when he ran for statewide office. Collin County is a¬†reliably Republican area¬†just north of Dallas. It’s no bastion of liberals out to “get” GOP politicians.

Thus,¬†it’s quite possible that the prosecutors who brought the complaint to the grand jury had the goods on Paxton and the grand jury agreed.

Now, though, the attorney general’s flack¬†has announced he plans to declare officially his intention to seek re-election.

The man’s got some work to do before he even thinks about his political future.

Texas voters need to share in Paxton saga

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Erica Greider, writing a blog for Texas Monthly, takes note of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s growing legal problems.

He shouldn’t stand alone in the alleged culpability, she writes.

Part of the responsibility — perhaps most of it — belongs to the Texans who elected him in 2014 as the state’s top law enforcement officer.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/indictments-texass-attorney-general/

A Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton this past year on several counts of securities fraud. Now, though, the Securities and Exchange Commission — the federal agency that oversees investment transactions — has leveled complaints against the attorney general.

Greider notes correctly that Paxton deserves the presumption of innocence, but she adds: “Even so, for an attorney general to rack up so many indictments with such ease and rapidity is in poor taste and raises troubling questions about his efficacy as manager.”

But none of this was a surprise sprung on Texans after he took office. It had been reported well before the November 2014 election that Paxton was in trouble for allegedly receiving income for investment advice he was giving to friends without reporting it properly to state election officials.

With that, Texans knew they were possibly electing a top legal eagle who himself might be facing some serious legal difficulty.

They elected him. He took office and then — wouldn’t you know it? — the grand jury indicted him and then the SEC weighed in with complaints of its own.

It just seems — to me, at least — that voters ought to be a good bit more discerning when selecting people to high public office.

It’s especially true — again, in my view only — that such discernment ought to be tuned even more finely when those selections involve people we entrust to enforce the state’s laws.

We can do a whole letter better than electing folks who are lugging around this kind of baggage.


 

Texas AG now faces SEC accusation

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is under indictment for securities fraud.

Now, though, the Securities and Exchange Commission has weighed in on the attorney general, charging him with a similar misdeed.

Let’s see. A Collin County grand jury — in Paxton’s home county — has issued a criminal indictment. The SEC now has accused the AG of failure to disclose he was being paid a commission for investment advice he was giving.

Is there a pattern here? Does the state of Texas really deserve to be represented by a top legal eagle who’s now under a dual-edged complaint?

As one who believes in the presumption of innocence, I have been reluctant to call for Paxton to step down from this high office.

Until now.

Paxton has proclaimed his innocence. Of course he would, yes?

I recall during the 2014 campaign for attorney general, though, that Paxton — who served in the Texas Legislature — actually admitted to doing what the grand jury accused him of doing when it indicted him. The grand jury indicted him for failing to disclose that he had been paid for the investment advice he gave.

Still, Texas voters elected him.

According to the Texas Tribune: “People recruiting investors have a legal obligation to disclose any compensation they are receiving to promote a stock, and we allege that Paxton and White concealed the compensation they were receiving for touting Servergy‚Äôs product,”¬†Shamoil T. Shipchandler, director of the SEC‚Äôs Fort Worth regional office, said in a news release on the complaint.

SEC joins in

This doesn’t look to me like a political witch hunt. The SEC is a regulatory agency run by professionals who are charged with ensuring that investment policies are followed to the letter.

The grand jury? It’s in the very county Paxton — a Republican — represented in the Legislature. Many of the grand jurors likely voted for the guy.

This doesn’t bode well for the attorney general.

For that matter, it doesn’t bode well for the state’s pursuit of top-notch and¬†credible¬†legal advice from its top lawyer.

I wouldn’t shed a tear if Ken Paxton decided to quit so he could devote his full attention to defending himself against these serious charges.

 

‘Loyal’ Republicans turning on Texas AG?

AG Paxton

Texas Republicans are about as loyal as any partisan group anywhere in America.

They seem to stand behind their embattled officeholders no matter what. Until now … maybe.

Texas Monthly reports that a poll taken by the Texas Bipartisan Justice Committee shows that 62 percent of state Republicans want Attorney General Ken Paxton to resign over his indictment for securities fraud. The poll also reveals that 53 percent of self-proclaimed TEA Party members want Paxton to quit.

Although I disagree that he shouldn’t have to resign because of an indictment — it’s that presumption of innocence thing, you know — I find it fascinating that a significant majority of Texas Republicans want one of their own to leave office.

He was indicted, after all, by a grand jury in Collin County, which he represented in the Texas Legislature before being elected attorney general in 2014.

Maybe that ought to tell the attorney general something about his standing among all Texans — and that includes Democrats, too. He is after all, attorney general¬†for the entire state and for all Texans, not just those who voted for him.

But as Erica Greider asks in her Texas Monthly blog, “What are the other 38 percent of Texas Republicans thinking?”

 

 

“Wipe that smirk off your face … “

This handout photo provided by Collin County, Texas shows Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton, who was booked into the county jail Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, in McKinney, Texas. A grand jury last week indicted Paxton on felony securities fraud charges. (AP Photo/Collin County via AP)

Look at this picture.

It is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton posing for his jail-booking mug shot.

Does that smirk bother you? It bothers me. It makes me wonder why politicians feel compelled to smirk like that when they’re being booked into a lockup, a place with sturdy iron bars meant to keep prisoners inside.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry smirked like that when he was booked after being indicted more than a year ago.

Paxton’s mug shot illustrates, I guess, a certain smugness that politicians have when the criminal justice system tags them with an allegation that they’ve committed a crime.

In this case, a Collin County grand jury has accused Paxton of securities fraud. It’s a big deal. The man could lose his political career if a jury convicts him of the felony accusations.

This mug shot reminds me of my dear, late mother.

I had this bad habit of smirking like that when Mom scolded me when I was a kid. I took the habit with me into the U.S. Army in 1968; our drill sergeants would get in our faces for this or that during our basic training and my reaction would be to, um, smirk. It drove these combat-tested soldiers crazy … and it damn near got me into some serious trouble.

Mom would get so angry she’d order me to “wipe that smirk off your face or I’ll wipe it off for you.”

Attorney General Paxton’s smirk will disappear if a jury hangs the “felon” label on him.