Legislative marathon delays criminal trial for North Texas House member charged with felony

State Rep. Frederick Frazier, R-McKinney, yields for a round of hazing questions as his colleagues gather to support his first House bill during session on the House floor at the state Capitol in Austin on April 25, 2023. (Evan L'Roy/The Texas Tribune, Evan L'Roy/The Texas Tribune)

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As state lawmakers prepare for the third special session of 2023, the protracted year of lawmaking is having the unintended effect of delaying a House member’s criminal trial.

Rep. Frederick Frazier, R-McKinney, was indicted over a year ago on two charges of impersonating a public servant, which is a third-degree felony. But the case has not gone to trial yet, partly because Frazier has applied for legislative continuances, which allow lawmakers to pause cases they are involved in until the Legislature concludes its business.

The trial is currently scheduled to begin Nov. 6. But with Gov. Greg Abbott planning to call a third special session that starts Oct. 9, Frazier is expected to seek another continuance, which would delay the trial until even later in the year.

Frazier’s lawyers recently sought to postpone the trial until March 4, 2024 — a day before the Texas primary — citing their own scheduling conflicts. But a judge denied that.

Frazier announced he’s running for reelection in late July, and he has not drawn any opposition yet.

The allegations date back to the 2022 primary, when Frazier, a Dallas police officer, was running for an open seat in House District 61, which includes parts of McKinney and Frisco, with the backing of big-name Republicans including former President Donald Trump. The indictment accuses Frazier of impersonating a McKinney city code enforcement employee on two occasions to instruct people to "remove campaign signage.”

Frazier’s runoff opponent, Paul Chabot, alleged it was his signs that were targeted.

Frazier easily won the runoff, but a Collin County grand jury indicted him on the charges about a month later. Dallas police placed Frazier on administrative leave, and its Internal Affairs division has been investigating him. That investigation remains ongoing, according to a department spokesperson, Kristin Lowman.

At the time of the indictment, Frazier’s campaign blamed the charges on “trumped up complaints” by Chabot and expressed confidence jurors would “see through Cabot’s lies.”

Frazier’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did his lawyer, Robert Rogers.

The Collin County district attorney’s office recused itself from the case, and a special prosecutor, Will Ramsay, has been handling it. Ramsay, the 8th Judicial District Attorney, has not responded to multiple messages seeking information about the case.

While the Nov. 6 trial is likely to get delayed, court records show a flurry of activity by the state since the case resumed late this summer. Nearly two dozens subpoenas have been returned as of Monday.

The case has a visiting judge, Jim Pruitt, who is a Rockwall attorney, former mayor of the city and former Dallas County criminal court judge. Pruitt said he set the Nov. 6 trial date on Aug. 7.

“The case is still set for trial November 6,” Pruitt wrote in an email. “If the Governor calls a special session, it may impact that trial date.”

Abbott has informed the Legislature he plans to call the third special session of the year to begin Oct. 9.

Legislative continuances allow lawmakers to delay cases they are involved in until 30 days after the Legislature is done meeting. Frazier first got a legislative continuance in January, citing the regular session, which went until late May. He then received an extension of the continuance that paused the case until after the second special session was over in mid-July.

If the third special session takes a full 30 days, Frazier’s case may not resume until early December. Furthermore, Abbott has openly threatened a fourth special session if lawmakers cannot pass his long-gridlocked education agenda, which could push Frazier’s case into 2024 — and closer to the March primary.