Late Wednesday evening, a Republican appointed Texas court dismissed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to prosecute election law violation cases.
In an 8-1 decision, the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals answered the case’s key question of whether the Texas Legislature delegates to the attorney general, a member of the executive department, the prosecution of election-law violations in the district and inferior courts.
According to court documents, the court simply answered no. Then proceeded to clarify that AG Paxton serves as a state official of the judicial branch and not the executive branch.
“Any attempt to overlap the Attorney General’s constitutional duties with county and district attorneys’ constitutional duties in the sense of a Venn diagram of sorts is unconstitutional,” the court said. “Practically speaking, any overlap is necessarily invitational, consensual, and by request: a county or district attorney must request the assistance of the Attorney General.”
So in simpler terms, according to the Texas Constitution, the state’s clear definition of separation of power grants district and county attorneys the power to prosecute criminal proceedings. Meanwhile, the attorney general’s job is to represent the state in Supreme Court cases and ensure private corporations are acting lawfully under the Texas legal code.
The court also clarified that the AG needs authorization from the district/county attorneys to follow suit.
“Absent the consent and deputization order of a local prosecutor or the request of a district or county attorney for assistance, the Attorney General has no authority to independently prosecute criminal cases in trial courts,” the court said.
This court decision is a blow for Texas Republicans who have continued former president Donald Trump’s theory of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. According to reports, in the 94 million votes cast in Texas elections since 2004, only 0.0006 percent have been prosecuted and resolved in court.
In response to the court’s decision, state Rep. Briscoe Cain, who authored the state’s voter suppression bill this past legislative session, tweeted his dissatisfaction of the court’s ruling and what he will do to fight it.
Likewise, Paxton also tweeted about his frustration with the court after losing all arguments.
Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.