DALLAS - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton returned to court again Thursday morning to try to have the felony fraud charges against him dropped.
The appeals court in Dallas is looking at whether there was improper procedure involving the grand jury that indicted Paxton last summer.
Paxton is facing three state fraud charges. He pleaded not guilty of persuading investors to buy stock in a McKinney company without disclosing he was being paid.
He’s also accused of failing to register with the state as an investment adviser. But his attorneys said he didn’t have to because the company he worked with was registered with federal regulators.
Paxton’s lead attorney Bill Mateja argued on Thursday his case should be thrown out because of how the grand jury that indicted Paxton was impaneled.
“The fact is any grand jury that was impaneled using a volunteer system in Texas is illegal,” Mateja argued. “The legislature has basically said there’s kind of like a cookie cutter approach that judges need to take, and they need to go through grand juror by grand juror whether or not they are qualified to serve. In this case, that simply did not happen.”
"If the court decides that this grand jury is void, then every case decided by this grand jury is also void,” Chief Justice Carolyn Wright told Mateja. “And every case in the state where a judge has asked grand jurors to volunteer would also be void."
While Mateja said he absolutely agreed, the special prosecutors disagreed saying the panel was random.
“Just because you ask for volunteers, it doesn’t make it less right of them,” said Special Prosecutor Kent Schaffer. “The randomness was in the way that they were brought to the courthouse to begin with and the way that they were assembled in the courtroom.”
Paxton spoke to reporters after the hearing without answering any questions.
“I think it went very well. I’m confident in the legal process and the people of Texas. I think my attorneys were able to show some of the flaws in the case. I just want you to know these are false charges and we will prevail,” he said.
"My message is simple. Don't believe the attacks on me. They aren't true and I'm going to fight them," he said. "It's not a coincident that the chief witness against me in these charges is a political adversary. There are folks who are still mad that I was elected, and they are mad that I'm a conservative Christian.”
Special prosecutors assigned to the case said "the case is not about politics; it's about securities fraud."
It is expected to take 60 to 90 days before the court issues a ruling.