The Burnet County district judge in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s whistleblowers’ case ruled on Tuesday to deny a temporary injunction and scheduled a hearing to decide if the case will move back to Travis County.
Attorneys representing Paxton and the four whistleblowers – James “Blake” Brickman, Ryan Vassar, David Maxwell, and Mark Penley – met in a courtroom for roughly four hours to present arguments to Judge Evan Stubbs on whether he should grant the injunction filed by the defendants, per The Texas Tribune.
This hearing was not attended by Paxton or any of the whistleblowers.
Bill Helfand, one of Paxton’s lawyers, claims that Paxton is complying with the agreement and the whistleblowers are treating this lawsuit as a “second impeachment proceeding” because they were dissatisfied with the outcome of the impeachment trial.
Helfand added that this was a breach of contract and “an abuse of a lawsuit,” according to The Texas Tribune.
Don Tittle, an attorney for one of the whistleblowers, pushed back on this claim and said the agreement contained contingencies about the confirmation of funding, adding that “the thing it is contingent has not happened.”
Similarly, Joe Knight, another attorney for the whistleblowers, said that Helfand’s argument was “almost comical” since the whistleblowers had not received any of the $3.3 million, stating the settlement terms had not been fulfilled.
“They know that we did not receive a nickel in compensation,” Knight said, per The Dallas Morning News.
Stubbs also chimed in regarding the debate on whether the settlement had been fulfilled, saying, “If it were truly and actually and finally settled, we wouldn’t be here,” per The DMN.
By the end of the hearing, Stubbs decided to deny the injunction request from Paxton’s team and ended the temporary restraining order issued last week.
Helfand said following the decision that his team could appeal, which Stubbs recommended they do quickly if that option were to be pursued, according to The Texas Tribune.
Stubbs also set a December 14 hearing date to discuss a motion filed by the whistleblowers to move the case to Travis County, per The Texan.
Although the case is based in Travis County, Paxton’s team filed the temporary restraining order in Burnett County, where Maxwell lives.
Tom Nesbitt, another attorney for the whistleblowers, said after the hearing that there is “no restriction” on the case being resumed in Travis County.
This case revolves around claims from the whistleblowers that they were fired unjustly after reporting Paxton to the FBI for allegedly abusing his power to support his friend and political donor Nate Paul, who is now facing federal charges of his own, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
The two sides nearly reached a settlement in February that would have required Paxton to pay $3.3 million in damages and issue an apology.
The attorney general then requested that state taxpayers fund the settlement, which prompted the Texas House to evaluate the allegations from the trial.
An investigation into the allegations resulted in the House creating 20 Articles of Impeachment against Paxton and a 121-23 vote to impeach, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Paxton was then acquitted by the Senate on 16 of the 20 articles, with the remaining four being dismissed.