HOUSTON, Texas -- After years of delays, impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton is finally due back in court Thursday in his securities fraud case.
Paxton and his lawyers appeared at 9 a.m. in Harris County district court for what records describe as a "non-trial setting."
Paxton was indicted on securities fraud charges months after he first took office in 2015. The case has been delayed for years by pretrial disputes initiated by defense lawyers and prosecutors.
The latest of those fights was settled in June when Texas' highest criminal court ruled that Paxton's trial will remain in Houston, overruling lower courts that had transferred the matter back to Collin County. Prosecutors succeeded in moving the case from Collin County in 2017, arguing that they could not get a fair trial in the county Paxton represented for 10 years in the Texas House and two years in the Senate.
Settling the venue dispute moved Paxton closer to trial, though other pretrial disagreements, such as how much back pay is owed to the special prosecutors, are still pending and could be addressed Thursday.
The hearing comes about a month before Paxton is scheduled to begin an impeachment trial in the Texas Senate. The House impeached him in late May, accusing him of a yearslong series of misconduct and lawbreaking, most of it centered on his relationship with an Austin real estate investor and campaign donor, Nate Paul.
Paxton was suspended from office upon impeachment. The Senate trial will determine whether he is permanently removed from office.
Four of the 20 articles of impeachment deal with the criminal case and related issues, but the Senate has agreed to conduct its trial on the other articles first.
Paxton has long denied wrongdoing in the securities fraud case, and he has blasted the impeachment as politically motivated. His lawyers filed a motion with the Senate on Monday seeking to dismiss all but one article of impeachment, arguing that he cannot be impeached for conduct alleged to have occurred before his current term in office began in January 2023.
In the criminal case, Paxton faces two counts of securities fraud, a first-degree felony with a punishment of up to 99 years in prison, stemming from his 2011 efforts to solicit investors in Servergy Inc. without disclosing that the McKinney tech company was paying him to promote its stock. Paxton also faces one count of failing to register with state securities regulators, a third-degree felony with a maximum of 10 years in prison.
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