It's not every day the state's most senior law enforcement officer is on trial for felonies right in our own backyard.
But just after Thanksgiving, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will be coming to town for his securities fraud trial right here in Harris County.
On Thursday, State District Judge Robert Johnson set Paxton's trial for December 11 in the 177th district court; jury selection will begin December 1. Paxton appeared in court with his crew of lawyers, headed by Philip Hilder and Dan Cogdell, two prominent Houston white-collar defense attorneys. Paxton did not speak, nor did he address reporters afterward.
Paxton was charged in Collin County in July 2015 with two counts of felony securities fraud and a third felony, acting as an investment adviser without registering as one with the state securities commission. He is accused of misleading investors by trying to cajole them into buying $100,000 in stock for a tech company he was representing, called Severgy Inc., without disclosing that he stood to financially benefit from their investments.
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Paxton has repeatedly maintained his innocence and described the charges as a "political witch hunt" — and his operatives have mounted massive publicity campaigns to echo him. Special prosecutors Brian Wice, Kent Schaffer and Nicole DeBorde — all Houston attorneys — successfully argued earlier this spring that "Paxton's cheerleaders" had tainted the Collin County jury pool by repeatedly describing the special prosecutors as money-hungry Houston Democrats using Collin County's taxpayer dollars to pay their salaries while bringing down a good family man like Paxton. As a result, Judge George Gallagher ordered that the trial be moved to Harris County.
Gallagher was not allowed to follow the case as a visiting judge, and recently elected judge Robert Johnson was chosen at random to preside over Paxton's case.
Watch Paxton's video below, titled "I'm standing and fighting!" to hear him proclaim his innocence.