McKINNEY, Texas - There will be two trials that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will face starting in May.
Prosecutors say Paxton will stand trial first on whether he violated the law when he failed to register with the state securities board. All of it is before he was attorney general, including two counts of securities fraud charges.
The trials will be back to back, but the question is where. Prosecutors have asked visiting Judge George Gallagher to move Paxton's trials to a different county.
During Thursday’s court hearing, special prosecutors focused on why they want the attorney general’s trial moved out of Collin County.
Former Houston TV reporter Wayne Dolcefino testified he secretly obtained and leaked to watchdog.org the Texas Rangers report on the investigation.
“I just don't think the news coverage of this case has anything to do with the facts of what I read in that Ranger report,” he said. “Asking eight guys if they care about a deal and six people say they don't and two people do. And you base an indictment on what I thought was a pretty flimsy, no offense to the Rangers, a pretty flimsy investigation.”
The watchdog website blogged the Texas Rangers report and bought commercials that aired on WBAP Radio.
Prosecutors charge Dolcefino, who was also hired for some work by Paxton's defense, coordinated efforts to taint potential jurors.
"This is not a guy who is trying to inform the public about all these things they didn't know,” said special prosecutor Kent Schaffer. “He's trying to help form opinions."
Prosecutors told Judge Gallagher they will try Paxton on the failure to register with the securities exchange commission first and then try the two fraud charges together.
"I'm surprised because I was told exactly the other position,” said Dan Cogdill, Paxton’s attorney. “But I've ceased being surprised in this case."
Prosecutors say the three cases cannot be tried together because the failure to register with the state securities is not as complex as the fraud charges.
Judge Gallagher said he planned to "at least try to choose a jury here" but didn't issue a formal ruling on the change of venue request.
Paxton was indicted in 2015. He's scheduled to go to trial in May on charges of defrauding wealthy investors in a tech startup.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.