Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal team has filed a motion to quash the 20 articles of impeachment brought against him, as well as a motion requesting a bill of particulars.
They argue that the articles lack specificity and fail to provide constitutionally adequate notice of the charges, making it difficult for Paxton to prepare a defense and for the public to understand the allegations against him.
“None of the Articles provide the Attorney General with constitutionally adequate notice of the charges, and forcing him to proceed on any of these Articles will violate the Texas Constitution and Texas law,” Paxton’s attorneys argue.
The motion highlights the unconstitutionally vague nature of the charges, which they describe as a “kitchen sink” approach that violates the Texas Constitution. They compare the lack of detail in these charges to previous impeachment cases, emphasizing the need for specificity in such proceedings, especially as Paxton’s case is the first impeachment of a statewide elected officer in over a century.
“Contrary to clear constitutional mandates, a reader is left to guess as to the specific claims the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to support each Article,” the motion states. “The need for specificity and particularity for each Article is of heightened importance in the context of the first impeachment of a statewide elected officer in over a century.”
A bill of particulars is requested to ensure that Paxton is properly informed of the charges against him, enabling his legal team to prepare a defense. The motion calls for particular information for each article, including dates of relevant events and the specific statutes allegedly violated.
For example, Article I must identify the specific duty of office violated, the relevant section of the Property Code, and the alleged harm to a charitable organization and benefit to Nate Paul. The motion points out that the House failed to interview or depose Paul during their investigation before the impeachment vote.
Paxton’s attorneys list detailed items that must be identified for each article, specifying what, how, when, where, and in some cases, with or against whom, the alleged offenses were committed.
The vagueness of the articles is seen as a procedural concern, and Paxton’s team argues that requiring a bill of particulars instead of amending the articles would uphold due process and Texas criminal law requirements.
As of now, the House managers have not filed a response. The pretrial motions are due by August 5th, with answers to pre-trial motions due by August 15th. The trial is scheduled to begin on September 5th.
The House ethics committee initiated proceedings with a review of the whistleblowers’ allegations against Ken Paxton in March, as reported by investigators. Subsequently, in late May, the House voted overwhelmingly to impeach Paxton, based on the committee’s findings that he likely misused his power to assist a campaign donor who was under FBI investigation.
Paxton’s legal team contends that their client was not given the opportunity to defend himself before the impeachment took place. The recently revealed text exchanges between Leach and Smith shed light on the extent to which the attorney general was strongly advised, and even warned, about the need to defend the settlement to lawmakers.
On the day of Paxton’s impeachment, May 27, Leach publicly stated that he had invited the attorney general to appear before the committee he chairs. Despite the committee holding 12 meetings that year, Paxton never made an appearance.
On September 5, the Senate will conduct a trial to determine whether Paxton will be removed from office.