Ken Paxton whistleblower lawsuit to move forward

The case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is now shifting from the Texas State Capitol to a Texas courtroom.

On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court sided with four former staffers who had been fired by Paxton, clearing the way for their whistleblower lawsuit to move forward.

This decision comes after Paxton was acquitted on 16 articles of impeachment related to bribery and corruption.

In this FOX 7 Focus, FOX 7 Austin's John Krinjak discusses the significance of this decision with constitutional law professor Eddy Carder.

JOHN KRINJAK: For those of us who aren't following this all that closely, who are these whistleblowers and what is this case about?

EDDY CARDER: Well, this is a group of whistleblowers who allege that AG Paxton had terminated them from their responsibilities wrongfully and that he had made statements against their character and against their identities that he should be held accountable for. In addition to that, they were alleging that he had engaged in some fraudulent activity and that he had abused the Office of the Attorney General for his own purposes in order to benefit himself as well as Mr. Paul.

JOHN KRINJAK: Talk to us about the significance of the ruling on Friday in the supreme court. What is that decision and what is the significance?

EDDY CARDER: This particular ruling that came down regarding the continuation of the case that the whistleblowers had initiated is significant in that it does tend to indicate that the court believed that the whistleblowers' arguments have legs, that there is a factual basis that needs to be considered with regard to the facts of whether or not they were wrongfully terminated.


JOHN KRINJAK: There's some overlap as far as what the whistleblowers are alleging in their lawsuit and what they spoke about in the impeachment trial. I mean, they were on the stand testifying. So are these things connected in any way or is this process kind of happening legally going forward? Is that happening separate from what happened in the impeachment trial?

EDDY CARDER: The impeachment trial case and the current case brought by the whistleblowers and the courts is asking it is connected in some fashion because they do have their origin in the same set of facts and same set of events. However, there is a distinction to be made in this respect. I would argue that the impeachment trial in the Senate centered around really the political considerations surrounding his responsibilities as AG for the state of Texas. But this particular case with regard to the whistleblowers has to do with the actual law and the actual wrongful termination of these individuals from their places of responsibility. The Whistleblower Act is in place in order to protect whistleblowers.

JOHN KRINJAK: Do you think their case will play out more successfully in a legal venue versus a political one?

EDDY CARDER: The fact of the matter is that from the get go, with regard to the impeachment trial, we felt as though the cards were really rather stacked because of the political nature of the trial, of the impeachment trial. This case is a different nature. It's not political in nature. It's concerning the violation of the rights of these whistleblowers. And so the outcome could be completely different in this context. Nonetheless, the whistleblowers will still have to establish their burden of proof and establish beyond a reasonable doubt that their rights have been violated.