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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.

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