You've gotta hand it to embattled Texas Attorney General Ken "Have I Got a Deal for You" Paxton, indicted on three counts of securities fraud: the guy will do anything he can to create a distraction from the actual charges, which look really bad on paper. Really bad.
His latest trick is to accuse the special prosecutors of being paid more than state law allows, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Paxton's lawyers (who are being paid by Paxton, since his charges don't stem from work he did as an elected official) alleged in a recent motion that the three prosecutors' pre-trial work is statutorily capped at $1,000 each. But the lawyers, Brian Wice, Kent Schaffer, and Nicole Deborde, are each being paid $300 per hour.
Paxton's lawyers argue in the motion that, "Naturally, the private lawyers are entitled to command their market rates for private cases. “However, with their appointments, they have stepped into the shoes of public servants and must be accountable to the public trust. The $300 per hour rate is not only excessive under (state law), but also when compared to any relevant amount.”
The prosecutors told the American-Statesman, "Mr. Paxton’s considerable resources would be far better spent in mounting a defense as opposed to his misplaced and inexplicable concern with our compensation."
They sort of have a point.
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Although Paxton said in a September news release that he looks forward to his day in court, the approximately 8,000 motions he's filed since his indictments suggest otherwise: instead of hastening the opportunity to proudly declare his innocence before a judge and jury, he's paying his lawyers to file motions like this most recent one, which will then require the allegedly overpaid prosecutors to rack up more taxpayer-footed fees to respond.
According to the American-Statesman:
"It was unclear how much work prosecutors have put into the Paxton case. During an August pretrial hearing, Schaffer told Gallagher that many hours had already been spent on the case, including compiling more than 20,000 pages of documents. Since then, there have been numerous court filings from prosecutors and a daylong pretrial hearing on 10 ultimately unsuccessful attempts to have the charges dismissed."
Some might say the filing smacks of desperation and pettiness, that a criminal defendant is not in the position to be crowing about "the public trust." Although the Texas State Securities Board let Paxton off with a slap on the wrist, the criminal charges are serious, and if Paxton can show that the charges are bogus, he needs to do so, either in a motion that actually addresses the allegations against him, or on that day in court he allegedly desires.