KXAN Austin

Judge dismisses Texas Bar lawsuit against Attorney General’s office

GEORGETOWN, Texas (Nexstar) — A Williamson County district judge tossed out a Texas State Bar Association lawsuit against a top deputy in the Texas Attorney General’s office over alleged misconduct in seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Judge John Youngblood dismissed the lawsuit, saying it lacked “subject-matter jurisdiction,” according to the court order, which was filed on Sept. 13. In a brief letter sent to the lawyers, the judge said the lawsuit violates the separation of powers doctrine by limiting the “Attorney General’s broad power to file lawsuits on the State’s behalf.”

The lawsuit was filed in May against Brent Edward Webster, the first assistant to the Attorney General, for his role in Texas’ challenge to overturn President Joe Biden’s electoral victories in four swing states — Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Michigan. The suit alleged Webster was dishonest in his reasons for contesting the 2020 election results to the United States Supreme Court.

“His allegations were not supported by any charge, indictment, judicial finding, and/or credible or admissible evidence, and failed to disclose to the Court that some of his representations and allegations had already been adjudicated and/or dismissed in a court of law,” the petition said.

Jim Harrington, who filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the State Bar, called the ruling a “legal charade” in a written statement.

“The logic of the judge’s decision is that, if a lawyer works for the Attorney General, there is no way to hold the lawyer accountable for ethical violations and professional misconduct. In other words, the Attorney General’s office is above the law. That is contrary to the principle of the Constitution, and we hope the State Bar will appeal the ruling. Key to the idea of a democratic society is that every person, no matter status or office, is accountable to the rule of law,” the statement reads.

In an emailed press release, Attorney General Ken Paxton said he will “not back down” from the “partisan activists at the Texas State Bar.” Paxton himself faces a similar lawsuit over the same issue and has sought to dismiss that one as well.

This isn’t the first time there have been allegations of misconduct against Paxton. In 2015, Paxton was indicted on felony securities fraud charges. Last year, seven of his top aides reported him to the FBI over bribery and abuse of office accusations. He is now facing wrongful termination and retaliation lawsuits from those former aids.

Last week, The Dallas Morning News reported a Collin County district judge ordered Paxton to sit in at a Nov. 28 deposition for his securities fraud accusations. The deposition will come after the election, where the Republican incumbent faces a challenge from Democrat Rochelle Garza.