In a significant development, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attempts to dismiss articles of impeachment against him faced a resounding rejection by Senators on Tuesday morning. However, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has just handed Paxton a noteworthy victory by ruling that he cannot be compelled to testify as a witness during his trial before the Texas Senate.
The rules approved for the trial by the Senate granted Patrick, who serves as the presiding officer or judge, the authority to issue subpoenas to require witnesses’ attendance.
Remarkably, Paxton had previously made it clear that he would not participate in the trial as a witness. This stance was confirmed by his lead lawyer, Tony Buzbee, in an official statement released in early July, stating that Paxton “will not engage in the House’s questionable proceedings by offering testimony.”
Following Paxton’s stance, his legal team submitted a pretrial motion requesting the Senate to exempt Paxton from testifying. They argued that the trial should be treated as a criminal proceeding, affording Paxton the same legal protections as a criminal defendant who cannot be compelled to testify.
However, House managers vehemently opposed this motion, contending that there were no exceptions for Paxton within the trial rules. They also asserted that Paxton should invoke his Fifth Amendment right to refuse self-incrimination if called to testify.
In a surprising turn of events on Tuesday, Patrick explained that the Senate’s adopted rules closely paralleled those applied in criminal cases. These rules included Paxton’s requirement to plead guilty or not guilty, and the necessity for House impeachment managers to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, a standard commonly used in criminal trials.
Patrick granted the motion, stating, “The House managers have repeatedly likened the House of Representatives’ actions to those of a grand jury when drafting the articles of impeachment. Grand juries are solely utilized in criminal cases.”
Consequently, Patrick concluded that Paxton cannot be compelled to testify as a defendant in his impeachment trial. This decision marks a pivotal moment in Paxton’s ongoing impeachment proceedings, with significant implications for the future of this high-profile case. Stay tuned for more updates as the trial unfolds!