AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The House panel overseeing the looming Senate impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Thursday Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin will be the attorneys who will act as prosecutors in the case.
Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, who leads the House’s impeachment board of managers said he has “full confidence” in the two lawyers.
In a Thursday press conference, Murr introduced DeGuerin and Hardin as the prosecutors who will be tasked with presenting the case during the Senate trial on behalf of the House panel. Both DeGuerin and Hardin emphasized their desire to have a fair and transparent process focused on facts and not politics.
“This is not about punishing Mr. Paxton it’s about protecting the public,” DeGuerin said. “The people of the state of Texas are entitled to know whether their top cop is a crook.”
Both said they hope when the Senate adopts rules for the trial, it will operate similarly to a criminal trial — in the sense that both defense and prosecution can present evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine. Hardin also emphasized the need for it to be public, so Texans can be aware of all the facts and arguments in the impeachment of their attorney general.
“I was shocked at the details and facts of the allegations. This is not about a one time misuse of an office. It’s not about a two time misuse of the office. It’s about a pattern of misconduct,” he said.
What do we know about the attorneys?
Dick DeGuerin is a famed criminal defense attorney with high-profile cases on his resume — including defending former Texas congressman Tom DeLay, Waco cult leader David Koresh and convicted murderer Robert Durst. An Austin native, DeGuerin earned his law degree at the University of Texas-Austin and worked as an associate under legendary criminal defense attorney Percy Foreman. He also is an adjunct professor at UT’s law school.
Rusty Hardin leads the Houston-based law firm Rusty Hardin & Associates and has won a slew of verdicts in favor of clients ranging from athletes like Deshaun Watson and Scottie Pippen, to former members of Congress.
Paxton impeachment trial
The Texas Senate will ultimately act as the jury in the impeachment trial against Paxton, who will remain responded from his position until the outcome is known. On Monday the upper chamber voted to hold the trial no later than Aug. 28.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named seven senators to a special committee that will work to outline the rules for the trial to proceed. They’re scheduled to present those to the full Senate during a meeting on June 20.
The Texas House of Representatives approved 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton, the three-term Republican, on May 29 by a vote of 121-23. These articles came as a result of a committee’s two-month investigation that began after Paxton asked to use state funds to settle a $3.3 million whistleblower lawsuit filed by four former employees who accused him of wrongdoing.
Catch up on our coverage:
- Potential impeachment looms over AG Ken Paxton after investigative hearing
- What we know about possible impeachment against Attorney General Ken Paxton
- What do the 20 Articles of Impeachment against Ken Paxton mean?
- How does the impeachment process work in Texas?
During the trial, senators will act as a jury and must take a vote of impartiality. The Senate needs two-thirds of votes in favor in order to remove a candidate from office. A convicted leader would be forced to leave office permanently.
Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, could soon be one of the jurors tasked with voting on whether or not to remove him from office. Neither the state constitution nor the government code mentions conflicts of interest as a cause for recusing oneself from an impeachment proceeding. Her office and other state leaders have not commented on the matter.
Paxton suspended without pay
After the Texas House voted 121-23 to impeach him, Paxton is suspended without pay, according to a letter from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
The letter from the Texas Comptroller said in part, “Per the Texas Constitution Article 15, Section 5, ‘all officers against whom articles of impeachment may be preferred shall be suspended from the exercise of the duties of their office, during the pendency of such impeachment.”
Furthermore, no salary payment may occur to Paxton while in suspended status, according to the Texas Comptroller.
Following the impeachment Saturday, the Attorney General’s office released a statement saying, in part, “the Texas House chose to proceed with the illegal impeachment of Attorney General Paxton.”