Court

Lawyers for Attorney General Ken Paxton seek dismissal of state securities fraud charges

Paxton’s attorneys argued that nearly nine years of delays – many of them on procedural motions brought by the defense – have denied Paxton his constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton, center, makes a statement at his office in Austin, Texas, Friday, May 26, 2023.
AP Photo/Eric Gay
Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton, center, makes a statement at his office in Austin, Texas, Friday, May 26, 2023.

Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are seeking to have state securities fraud charges against him dismissed. The move comes ahead of a pretrial hearing for Paxton on Friday of next week.

Paxton has been under indictment since July 2015 relating to allegations that he defrauded investors in a technology startup he was involved in called Servergy, Inc. prior to his election as attorney general.

Several factors have delayed Paxton's securities fraud trial. They include repeated changes of venue, multiple replacements of judges, disputes over the pay for special prosecutors Kent Schaffer and Brian Wice, Hurricane Harvey, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Paxton's Senate impeachment trial on unrelated corruption charges.

Defense attorneys Dan Cogdell, Philip Hilder, and Michael Mowla filed a motion Wednesday arguing that the near-nine-year wait violated Paxton's right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment. That, they said, provides grounds to dismiss the indictments against him.

"I don't think there's much to it," Schaffer said. "Many of the delays were caused by things that they did, whether it was appeals, working in conjunction with Collin County to cut off funding, which necessitated numerous court hearings, motions, and appeals. So, they kind of brought it on themselves."

Houston Public Media reached out to Cogdell and Hilder for comment, but neither responded.

One other question that may be addressed at the February 16 pretrial hearing is whether the trial will begin on April 15, as scheduled.

"There's a real question about whether the trial is even going to start," Schaffer said. "The whole payment issue is still tied up in the Court of Appeals, and so we're hoping it gets resolved by then. But who knows?"