Texas Court holds hearing on charges against former Gov. Rick Perry

Judges with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals are now trying to decide if the indictment against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will go to trial or if the case should be tossed. The hearing Wednesday involves Perry’s veto power and his alleged attempt to force Travis County D.A. Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her Drunk Driving arrest.

The hearing wrapped up with Governor Perry’s defense team taking no questions - only this one defiant statement.

"This has been an unprecedented attempt at prosecution it’s a one of a kind situation,” said Tony Buzbee.

The hearing before the court of criminal appeals - was not only held without Perry in attendance, but recently elected justice Bert Richardson was not on the bench. He initially oversaw the case as a District Court Judge and recused himself from Wednesday’s hearing. The remaining judges spent most of the morning questioning state Prosecutor Lisa McMinn.

"It showed they were paying attention to the issue and prepared and were very interested in the issue,” said McMinn.

McMinn argued the abuse of power allegations against Perry should be settled by a jury and the coercion charge against him reinstated. But some on the bench, like Judge Kevin Year, struggled with how to make a decision about that without hearing key evidence.

"Because I don’t want to tear down a fence, you know,  that maybe there's something hiding behind it that I’m not sure why the fence was put up, and it  seems to me the reason is because we don’t want to have the main event before the main event,” said Judge Yeary.



Defense attorneys believe Perry was within his right to veto funding for the Travis county public integrity unit in 2013. He allegedly threatened to do so if District Attorney Rosemary Lehmbher didn't resign because of her behavior after a Drunk Driving arrest. The constitutionality of the coercion statute that Perry was indicted under seemed to trouble the court. That prompted a question from Presiding Judge Sharon Keller.

"While we are on the topic of hypotheticals, if the legislature, if members of the legislature had said they would cut the appropriations to the public integrity unit if Ms. Lehemberg did not resign, would that have been a Criminal act,” asked Judge Keller.

McMinn responded by saying, “I think the legislature has exempted themselves from the statue."

In an attempt to apply that question to Perry the judges allowed UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh to explain why he believes the indictment is excessive.

"The first Amendment protects political officials arguing with each other and sometimes threatening each other with political retaliation and just the normal hurly-burly of politics, this is what government officials do all the time,” said Volokh.

A ruling was not made and one may take several weeks if not months to make.

 

 

 

 

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