A Houston appeals court has pressed pause on a ruling that would have allowed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to stand trial for felony securities fraud in his hometown of Collin County.
That Oct. 23 ruling came three years after the case was first sent to Harris County, with prosecutors arguing they could not get a fair trial prosecuting Paxton in a part of the state where he and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, are deeply politically connected.
Paxton is accused of persuading investors to buy stock in a technology firm without disclosing he would be compensated for it. He has maintained his innocence and dismissed the charges as politically motivated.
The 1st Court of Appeals in Houston has, for now, blocked the case from resuming in Collin County — likely further delaying the five-year-old case — as it considers the issues.
Paxton was indicted in 2015, but has yet to go to trial amid side battles like the venue dispute and an argument over how much the prosecutors should be paid.
Paxton once represented Collin County in the Legislature, and now his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, represents the region.
"Paxton thinks he won't face justice before a Harris County jury because two judges have told him he won't,” said Brian Wice, one of the special prosecutors. “We believe the First Court of Appeals will tell him that's not how the law works."
Separate from the five-year-old securities fraud charges, Paxton has been in hot water this month after seven of his top aides accused him of serious crimes, including bribery. They allege he used the power of the attorney general’s office to serve the interests of a political donor, Austin real estate investor Nate Paul.
Paxton has dismissed the allegations as “false” and the aides as “rogue employees.” As of this week, all seven have either resigned, been placed on leave or fired. A spokesman for Paxton denied that firing two whistleblowers was retaliation.