A judge in Harris County established a start date for Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud trial, some eight years and three months after a grand jury first indicted him.
During a hearing at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center on Monday morning, District Judge Andrea Beall set a trial date of April 15, 2024, according to WFAA. A February deadline for submitting pre-trial motions was also established.
Following the hearing, prosecutors expressed their belief that the trial would be fair and that Paxton would be convicted.
“The playing field’s level and the truth matters. And the truth is that Mr. Paxton is going to have to answer for what … he did eight years ago,” said special prosecutor Brian Wice, per WFAA.
Similarly, Paxton’s attorney, Philip Hadler, said he and his team also trust in the process.
“I think this will be a fair trial,” Hadler said, according to WFAA. “We have a fair judge, and I think we expect an even hand in this.”
The case stems from accusations that date back to 2011, before Paxton was elected attorney general of Texas. Special prosecutors assigned to the case claim that Paxton defrauded investors by failing to disclose he was paid by a startup company he was promoting. He has also been accused of helping a friend’s investment company by recruiting clients unlawfully.
Paxton was reprimanded and fined $1,000 by the Texas Securities Board in the spring of 2014 for soliciting investors without registering with the board, according to CBS News Texas.
A Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton in July 2015, less than seven months after he became attorney general. Paxton’s indictment carried three felony charges, including two counts of first-degree securities fraud and a third-degree charge for failing to register with the state securities board. He could face up to 99 years in prison and be ineligible from holding office in Texas if convicted.
Monday’s hearing comes less than two months after the attorney general was acquitted on impeachment charges by the Texas Senate, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
In May, the Texas House voted to impeach Paxton 121-23, with 60 Republicans joining the impeachment push. The House filed 20 articles of impeachment in total that claimed Paxton disregarded his political responsibilities and used his official powers to unlawfully assist a political donor.
During the trial that followed, in which the Senate stood as jury, Paxton was acquitted on 16 of the charges, and the remaining four were dismissed, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the presiding officer of the trial, addressed the Senate after Paxton was acquitted, criticizing the way the House went about executing the impeachment push and stating that “an impeachment should never happen again in the House like it happened this year.”
Lately, Paxton has been receiving more support from his political base, with some arguing that his acquittal in the Senate has only added to his credibility.
“It is part of why Trump’s support remains strong, if not stronger, as he faces his challenges,” said Mark Davis, a Dallas-based talk show host, according to The Dallas Morning News. “Paxton has already emerged from this, and he has emerged victorious.”