It is almost an unprecedented move -– a district judge says lawyers for Attorney General Ken Paxton can have the transcripts related to the seating of four Collin County grand juries, including the one that indicted the Republican on securities fraud.
Paxton has pleaded not guilty to charges he steered friends and clients to an investor and received secret payments for his referrals
The special prosecutors did not want grand jury transcripts released, arguing this amounted to a fishing expedition, but Paxton's legal dream team told Judge George Gallagher that the grand jury may have been empaneled in a manner inconsistent with the law.
Paxton’s lawyers’ motion was granted by Judge George Gallagher.
FOX 4 took some questions to attorney Victor Vital, who is not involved in the case.
“Is this unusual?” said FOX 4’s Shaun Rabb.
“It’s very unusual,” said Vital. “These grand jury proceedings are secret by law and going back over a period of centuries, grand jury proceedings have always been confidential, so this is a highly unusual circumstance.”
Each grand jury panel is made up of 12 jurors and two alternates that are supposed to be randomly selected.
“In this case, I would imagine that what’s going on is that the defense team thinks maybe there's some irregularities or some hanky-panky so to speak with respect to the political angle, “ said Vital. “We know that’s one of their themes of defense, that this is a political witch hunt.”
At a recent Republican fundraiser, Paxton’s wife sang about the attorney general going after President Obama.
Paxton’s supporters have suggested his legal troubles are not from him doing wrong, but rather, Republicans turning on one of their own.
And by the subpoenas for grand jury records, his lawyers may be suggesting more.
In an email, Paxton’s attorney writes, “This is a victory, pure and simple. Not only is it a victory for General Paxton, it is a victory for transparency in the grand jury process. Despite the Special Prosecutors describing our request as desperate, the Court easily saw through that hyperbole. The Court's ruling demonstrates that these subpoenas were justified and proper. We have every right to consider the circumstances in which the grand jury was picked in this case."
“I haven’t talked to the defense team and I looked at the order and some of the papers filed with the court today, and it would appear that they think that something untoward has happened with respect with the selection for the grand jury, possibly politics or somebody being there that may have skewed the indictment improperly,” said Vital.
The defense team will likely compare how the grand jury that indicted Paxton was selected to three other Collin County grand jury panels to determine what questions were asked of potential jurors and how, perhaps looking for something that could call into question the integrity of the group that heard evidence against Paxton.
More talking through court documents is expected in the weeks to come.