You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Impartiality in Ken Paxton prosecution is impossible


Imagine yourself appointed to serve on a grand jury, whose members are kept confidential to protect the participants, the witnesses and the potential defendant.

Then imagine answering your door to find a stranger who not only knows your home address, but also your name and the fact that you are on the grand jury.

This stranger is trying to persuade you to launch your own investigation of a particular individual. How would you feel? Frightened? Violated?

This isn’t a scenario from a John Grisham novel. This happened in the investigation of Attorney General Ken Paxton.

What would you think if a judge said that this person is peddling this information “in violation of the laws of the state of Texas?” Would you have concerns that justice is in jeopardy?

How would you react if you discovered the court emailed the grand jury names — your name included — to almost 100 people, including reporters?

Or, as a private citizen, how would you feel if you learned you were the person being targeted for investigation or an indictment, through the stranger’s door-to-door campaign?

The inexplicable details of this proceeding don’t end here. Two “special prosecutors,” who spent their careers working as defense attorneys, not prosecutors, are driving the process. Between the two special prosecutors assigned to this case, it appears only one has ever prosecuted a single case before and it was just that: one single case.

Normally, seasoned prosecutors are appointed to aid investigations. Instead, these two defense lawyers have built incredibly lucrative practices defending people charged with crimes, including drug and child sex crimes — the very type of criminal Attorney General Paxton tries to put in prison. One wonders about the impartiality of the appointed special prosecutors when their trade is defending those charged with the most heinous of crimes.

Beyond conflict of interest exists a broader question of their likely unprofessional conduct. Whereas experienced prosecutors are historically tight-lipped, these two special prosecutors have been granting, perhaps initiating, news interviews regarding this case for months. A quick online search reveals at least 25 quotes directly attributed to them.

It goes without saying that three months of having his name dragged through the mud have made things tough on Ken Paxton, his wife, and his family. They knew life in the public eye would have its challenges, but inappropriate attacks on our attorney general’s character is an unexpected low.

Their loquacity is an injustice to Attorney General Ken Paxton, but it likely aids their defense practices. Remember: One of the “special prosecutors” is a commentator for a Houston TV news station, leading some to describe him as “the Geraldo Rivera of Houston.”

As the “Houston, Texas Drug Trafficking Defense Attorney” — as one calls himself — and his fellow special prosecutor revel in their media coverage and resulting notoriety, Texans of good conscience are starting to examine the impact of these prosecutorial abuses.

Texans should be deeply concerned about the sanctity of our legal system and our own prospects for fair treatment under the law in light of these injustices.

If society continues to overlook this witches’ brew of jury tampering, media leaks, and freshman prosecutors, we may wake up to find the office of the Attorney General of Texas at the mercy of two criminal defense attorneys who take checks from the very drug cartel leaders and child molesters the attorney general tries to imprison.

That Grisham-style outcome might make for scintillating media coverage, but it makes a mockery of our justice system. Justice demands better, and Texans and Attorney General Ken Paxton deserve better.

Holm is a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. This story has been edited to reflect the correct author’s name and affiliation.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Herman: Putting faces with Austin names on the Vietnam Wall
Herman: Putting faces with Austin names on the Vietnam Wall

The mission is admirable. And now, thanks to people dedicated to putting faces with names, a local portion of it is a mission accomplished. Just about a year ago, when a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was on display during the Vietnam War Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library, I told you about Janna Hoehn’s wonderful and challenging...
Paul Krugman: How to build on Obamacare
Paul Krugman: How to build on Obamacare

“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” So declared Donald Trump three weeks before wimping out on his promise to repeal Obamacare. Up next: “Nobody knew that tax reform could be so complicated.” Then, perhaps: “Nobody knew that international trade policy could be so complicated.” And so on. Actually...
Jack Hunter: Libertarians are flexing their political muscle
Jack Hunter: Libertarians are flexing their political muscle

The American Health Care Act—the “ObamaCare-lite” legislation championed by most Republicans including President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan—is dead. And it was the most libertarian members of Congress who did the most to kill it—from the very beginning. Reason’s Eric Boehm writes, “On January 13, a week before...
Letters to the editor: March 28, 2017
Letters to the editor: March 28, 2017

Re: March 11 commentary, “Why ending funding for arts, humanities will hurt us all.” Times are hard when the director of the Harry Ransom Center writes a Viewpoints commentary for continued free tax money to “fund” this facility. The arts are very important — but I wonder if the director realizes how much in debt this...
Commentary: Bills would allow nurses to fill doctor shortages
Commentary: Bills would allow nurses to fill doctor shortages

In the shadow of Congress failing to improve health care, Texas lawmakers have a golden opportunity to sharply increase access to care: They could substantially increase the number of primary-care providers — and it wouldn’t cost a dime. We’ve got a real problem here. According to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation...
More Stories