Courts

Jurors Begin Deliberations in Ken Paxton's Impeachment Trial

Republican Andrew Marr, chairman of the House Board of Managers, giving his closing statement Friday in Paxton's impeachment trial.
Republican Andrew Marr, chairman of the House Board of Managers, giving his closing statement Friday in Paxton's impeachment trial. Screenshot

Just before noon Friday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick gave his final set of instructions to the 30 senators who will decide whether suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton should be convicted of any or all the 16 Articles of Impeachment lodged against him by the Texas House.

If found guilty of any of them, he will be removed from office. Also, if found guilty, another vote will be take on whether he should ever hold elected office again.

Patrick urged the senators to work until at least 8 p.m. today and later if needed. Each senator will present his or her vote on each article of impeachment, one by one. Patrick also said if senators are not all ready to announce their decisions Friday, They will meet again Saturday and Sunday if needed. If they are unable to render their verdicts by Sunday night, they will be sequestered until they are completed.

Patrick began the day's proceedings by instructing senators that when they consider the articles of impeachment they should be considering no just that he committed the wrong but whether that should remove him from office.

Each side was held to an hour in closing arguments with Tony Buzbee, who represents Paxton, saying the case should never have come to trial, that there was no evidence or that the evidence presented didn't rise to the level of "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Attorney Dan Cogdell, who said he'd prepared about 30 minutes in closing statements but was left with about 10 after Buzbee finished, stressed that Paxton had every right to look into the allegations of his friend and donor, Nate Paul, an Austin-based real estate investor.

Republican Andrew Marr (R-Austin)  chairman of the House Board of Managers, spoke briefly for 10 minutes at the start, saying that Paxton who was supposed to be in service to the state of Texas "ultimately ended up serving one person: himself."

Marr returned to the mic after the defense had presented their arguments to track through most of the points of the 16 articles of impeachment, replaying for senators bits and pieces of the prosecution's witnesses to make his points about why Paxton deserved to be impeached.  He included former Texas Ranger David Maxwell's testimony that he had gone directly to Paxton to tell him "Nate Paul was a criminal and he was running a Ponzi scheme."

Marr also raised the issue of reasonable doubt stressing it was what jurors could "reasonably" conclude after hearing the evidence. Paxton is accused of misusing his office by granting special favors to Paul in return for which the investor gave him money, was ready to pay for his home renovations and hired Paxton's alleged mistress, Laura Olson, so she could live in Austin instead of San Antonio.

The last few minutes of the prosecution case went to Representative Jeff Leach(R-Plano) who described Paxton as "a dear friend" and "a brother in Christ" and said the two Baylor grads got together for football and church. But, he said, he had voted for the impeachment after hearing the evidence. "None of us want to be here today," he told the room.

   
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