Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will be on trial in a Harris County courtroom in September for felony charges — but the smear campaign against the judge hearing his case is apparently starting now.
Paxton will face trial for felony securities fraud charges and is accused of misleading investors and failing to disclose that he would make a commission on their investment in a company called Severgy. The judge on the case, State District Judge George Gallagher of Fort Worth, recently ordered that the trial be moved out of Colin County, where Paxton is a hometown favorite, and instead to Harris County after special prosecutors on the case argued that Paxton cronies and "cheerleaders" tainted the jury pool. "Team Paxton," special prosecutors said, had painted Paxton as the victim of a political witch hunt through "every conceivable form of mass media available": radio ads, social media campaigns and YouTube videos.
And now, apparently, flyers that smear a state district judge. They are titled: "Judge Gallagher's Court: Rigged Against Texans."
"Taxpayers shouldn't fund Gallagher's rigged, political court!" the flyer reads.
The flyer, which was mailed to people in at least the Clear Lake area, a recipient of the flyer confirmed, paints Gallagher as a judge with a penchant for injustice and incompetence. It says, "Judge Gallagher has a long history of abuse and manipulation" and, "Now, he's been busted trying to fix the Paxton case."
The senders — who are identified nowhere on the flyer but are presumably Paxton superfans — cite misleading court cases and take out of context statements within appeals rulings that Gallagher "erred" or "abused his discretion" when actually those court cases were siding with Gallagher's decisions.
The intent is clear: Plant the idea in potential Harris County jurors' minds that the judge in Paxton's case will never give him a fair trial. Paxton himself tried to remove Gallagher from the case to get a new judge, but to no avail.
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"Judge GALLAGHER is shopping for a hostile jury and DISREGARDING THE LAW to rig the outcome of Paxton's trial, just like he's done over and over again," the flyer creators wrote. (Gallagher had said he chose to move the trial to Harris County because both the special prosecutors and Paxton's defense counsel live here.)
In one case the senders cite, in which Gallagher is supposedly being manipulative, a man convicted in Gallagher's court of sexually abusing a child filed an appeal that accuses Gallagher of "abusing his discretion"—because Gallagher sustained one objection about a statement he deemed was hearsay. The appeals court ruled Gallagher should have let it on the record, but ultimately upheld the conviction because Gallagher's error was "harmless" and had no impact on the case. Another time that Gallagher, according to Paxton superfans, "abused his discretion" is when a convicted murderer filed an appeal accusing him of doing that. The flyer quotes the murderer. The appeals court rejected the murderer's argument and upheld his conviction.
The only ounce of truth in the flyer is the statement that Gallagher "wrongfully denied him his constitutional right." According to court records, Gallagher denied a convicted child abuser, sentenced to 50 years for causing serious bodily injury to a child, a right to represent himself as his own attorney at trial. At the second trial where the man did represent himself, Gallagher discovered new evidence that he told a Child Protective Services investigator to "fuck off" and that he "didn't have time to deal with his fucking children." Gallagher sentenced him to life. CPS found the baby malnourished to the point that his bones were visible and his muscles were atrophying. The appeals court upheld the sentence Gallagher imposed.
Understandably, it would have been very difficult to fit all of this extra context into the flyer.