The Austin Chronicle

Request Denied: Paxton Will Be Questioned Under Oath Despite Delay Tactics

By Lina Fisher, December 29, 2023, 5:00pm, Newsdesk

Wednesday, Texas’ 3rd Court of Appeals denied Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request for a stay of a Travis County judge’s ruling ordering depositions in the ongoing whistleblower lawsuit that led to his impeachment earlier this year. The judge is seeking Paxton and his staff to appear for depositions; Paxton must now respond by Jan. 3.

The whistleblowers’ 2020 lawsuit rests on the grounds of wrongful termination, after they reported evidence of Paxton’s corruption to the FBI. Paxton and the plaintiffs had previously reached a settlement agreement of $3.3 million, but when Paxton asked the Legislature to use taxpayer dollars to fund the settlement, a House committee initiated an investigation into charges including bribery, abuse of office, obstruction of justice, and felony securities fraud, which triggered an impeachment trial. That trial, though it resulted in acquittal, provided abundant evidence of his corrupt relationship with Austin real estate investor Nate Paul, who provided Paxton home renovations and employment for his longtime mistress. Paxton was acquitted on all counts, but the wrongful termination lawsuit was allowed to move forward.

On Dec. 20, Travis County District Judge Jan Soifer ordered Paxton to testify under oath, which Paxton appealed with an emergency motion for temporary relief and a petition for writ of mandamus (basically, asking for another court to review the decision). The former was denied this week; the latter argues that Soifer abused her discretion and that depositions shouldn’t be required because the case was already resolved in the settlement agreement before the attempted impeachment.

Paxton is asking the 3rd Court of Appeals to enforce the settlement agreement or “set limitations” on the required depositions, which the plaintiffs’ attorneys say is just the latest effort from Paxton to delay the case. The court will require the whistleblowers to reply to the writ of mandamus by Jan. 4.

Copyright © 2024 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.