Grand Jury convened against Perry

The Austin American-Statesman, as well as the Houston Chronicle (both behind those asinine paywalls), both report that in the ongoing legal action against Governor Perry.

A few weeks ago, Judge Richardson appointed a Special Prosecutor, later deemed to be Michael McCrum, against Governor Perry in the ongoing abuse of office and coercion investigation. As many will recall, Perry went all Nixonian in June after using a line-item veto to cut funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit. This was done after the Travis County DA, Rosemary Lehmberg, was arrested for drunk driving. Lehmberg, for her part, pleaded guilty and served out her sentence–30 days in jail. However, this was not good enough for Perry, who demanded she resign (and therefore be replaced by a Perry appointment) or he threatened to cut funding to her office’s key Statewide function.

After making the cuts, an Austin group, Texans for Public Safety, filed suit against Perry for a number of corruption charges. The Public Integrity Unit, for its part, was mostly saved after the County itself decided to foot the bill.

This grand jury will be empaneled for three months, and will consider the charges against Rick Perry (as well as some against Rosemary Lehmberg). It may offer up an indictment to either of these representative.

Off the Kuff has more.

Special Prosecutor against Perry

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Paybacks are hell

The Dallas Morning News reports that a Special Prosecutor will be named to begin an investigation against the Governor for charges of coercion and abuse of office following his veto of funding for the Public Integrity Unit.

The astute will surely remember that Rosemary Lehmberg, the District Attorney of Travis County, was arrested earlier this year for Driving While Intoxicated. Lehmberg’s case, like all other misdemeanors, was handled by the County Attorney, so there was no conflict of interest. Additionally, Lehmberg pleaded guilty, spent 30 days in jail, and completed all pending action against with–together will a pledge she would not run for re-election in 2016. Most people thought that would be it.

The trouble with Lehmberg resigning would be that the Governor would appoint her replacement. The Travis County DA is also uniquely important, as it hosts the State’s Public Integrity Unit, investigating corrupt acts perpetuated by State officials.

This is why Perry came in, as he has a vested interest in appointing the next Travis County DA. Shedding crocodile tears over Lehmberg’s alleged alcoholism making her unfit for the job (the pot calling the kettle a drunk, in my humble opinion), Perry announced he would line-item veto the funding for the Public Integrity Unit in the State’s budget unless Lehmberg resigned.

As it turns out, Lehmberg didn’t resign and Perry ended up vetoing the funding. That is where the arguments began over Perry’s wrongdoing. This could be seen as coercion because Perry made a threat to Lehmberg and abuse of office because it would be Perry, for all intent and purposes, withdrawing money from a group that investigates wrongdoings by himself.

The trial will be heard in State District Court in Williamson County, however it will be presided over by Judge Bret Richardson, who was appointed to the case by the powers-to-be in Williamson County. The case would have originally been heard in Travis County, but officials there recused themselves. Richardson is a Republican.

The Special Prosecutor the Morning News speaks of, I assume, will have the power to start the discovery process of the case against Rick Perry. Let us hope he finds something. As the article goes on:

Judge Robert “Bert” Richardson said he expected to name someone early next week, at which time “an order will be prepared and filed with the court.”

[…]

Richardson will appoint an “attorney pro-tem,” which the criminal state statutes describe as a special prosecutor, except the lawyer is not under the auspices of an elected district attorney.

This trial will be quite the event to watch. In other related news, the Houston Chronicle reports that Judge Richardson will soon appoint an attorney to defend the State as well.