Indicted Texas sheriff alleges Attorney General Ken Paxton overreached his powers

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A jurisdictional fight in the Texas Court of Appeals began Wednesday, alleging Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton overreached his powers when he charged a Texas sheriff with a felony indictment in 2018.

Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens was indicted for tampering with a government document, and now claims in court Paxton did not have the authority to charge her.

Her attorney in court, Chad Dunn, argued the case should have been initiated at the local level.

“Our position and argument is this: the Constitution could not be more clear that power is held by the county and the district attorney,” Dunn argued.

The state argued the constitution does allow the attorney general to initiate cases like this, pointing to discretionary language.

“Both this court and the Supreme Court have commented that both local attorneys and the attorney general functionally exercise a mix of executive and judicial powers,” Solicitor General Judd Stone argued.

The court has not yet made a decision.

First elected in 2016, Stephens is still serving as sheriff. She was re-elected in November 2020.

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