(The Center Square) – After seven days of hearing witnesses, the House rested its arguments in the impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton Wednesday afternoon. Paxton’s attorneys filed a motion challenging the insufficiency of the evidence. House managers filed a motion to change Senate rules to bar Paxton from ever holding office again.
The house was required by Senate Rule 25 to present a case with a “burden of proof…beyond a reasonable doubt” and present evidence to support the allegations filed in the articles of impeachment. Paxton’s lawyers say they did not do so and filed a motion for a directed verdict on each of the articles of impeachment.
Paxton’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, told Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is presiding over the trial, that they filed the motion Wednesday afternoon.
In response, Patrick said: “Pursuant to the rules adopted by the Senate, there is a motion for a directed verdict… which must be put to a vote by the members of the court. » The motion is “a challenge to the insufficiency of the evidence.” Therefore, these motions will be sent to senators.
Senate rules require that a majority of senators, 16, be in favor of a motion. If a majority is not reached, the motion fails.
Before Buzbee’s motion, the House called its final witness and rested its case Wednesday afternoon. Lead House counsel Dusty Hardin said the House ended its case after direct examination of its last witness ended, but did so without allowing Paxton’s lawyers to cross-examine . It is unclear whether this was an oversight or intentional. Buzbee said he reserved the right to recall the witness.
After ending the House Manager’s arguments, Hardin immediately filed a motion to amend the Rules of the Senate in their name. The Senate deliberated on the rules for weeks and announced them on June 21, 2023. House managers were not involved in the Senate rule-making process. They requested that the rules be changed three months after adoption and before final arguments and a vote by senators.
Their movement directs the Senate to amend Rules 27 and 30(a), which govern, respectively, the manner in which the court deliberates after the presentation of final arguments and the process for any article subject to conviction. Under Senate rules, if an article of impeachment is upheld and Paxton is found guilty, he must be removed from office. However, the rules do not automatically require that he be barred from holding office in Texas in the future.
House managers not only want Paxton removed from office, but they also want him disqualified from holding office in the state of Texas, as Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, argued at many times.
Their motion argues that the Senate rules are inconsistent with the Texas Constitution, which Hardin said requires “that a state official convicted of impeachable offenses be both removed from office and disqualified from office.” its future functions. The motion states that “the plain language of the Texas Constitution requires the Senate not only to impeach, but also to disqualify a state representative from holding future office for committing impeachable conduct.”
Hardin argues in the motion that failing to prevent Paxton from holding office again would “frustrate” the impeachment process. The motion also proposes rewritten versions of Senate Rules 27 and 30(a).
In response, Paxton’s lawyers also filed a request arguing that Hardin’s motion “should either be denied outright or deferred until a vote on Attorney General Paxton’s innocence is taken.”
If the Senate votes to acquit Paxton later this week or early next week, Paxton’s lawyers say, the acquittal “renders moot this last-minute issue raised by the House and renders unnecessary any examination of this motion.
“As the House itself points out,” they continue, “all precedent weighs against the House’s position. Changing 100 years of precedent on the fly and at the last minute would not respect the gravity of precedent – or this process.
They also argue that the House is “substantially wrong because of its misinterpretation of the Constitution.”
Patrick said the motions would be answered Thursday morning and senators would vote on them.
As of Wednesday evening, Paxton’s motion for a directed verdict had not yet been issued to the Senate Court of Impeachment. website. The two motions regarding changing the rules were.