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Ken Paxton’s criminal trial has been pending for nearly four years: Here’s a timeline of his legal drama

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Since his criminal indictment in July 2015, the Texas attorney general has seen delay after delay in his case, including a side dispute over prosecutor pay that has derailed the prosecution for well over a year.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been under a legal cloud for years, awaiting trial on felony securities fraud charges. But since his criminal indictment in July 2015, Paxton has seen delay after delay in his case, including a side dispute over prosecutor pay that has derailed the prosecution for well over a year. With the charges dogging him, he narrowly won reelection in 2018.

Check out our timeline below of the case’s twists and turns. We’ll update it with new stories from The Texas Tribune and other outlets as the legal battle proceeds.

Spring 2014

First signs of trouble

In April, during Paxton’s bid to become the Republican nominee for attorney general, The Texas Tribune obtains documents showing he was not registered with the state board while he was being paid to solicit clients for a North Texas financial services firm. Paxton’s campaign launches an internal review to determine whether he had broken any laws. Soon after, the Texas State Securities Board reprimands Paxton for soliciting investment clients without being registered. He is fined $1,000 and signs a disciplinary order without disputing its findings.

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Spring – Summer 2015

Criminal case emerges

After Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis recuses himself from the investigation because he knows Paxton, a GOP judge appoints special prosecutors Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer and agrees to pay them $300 per hour. Prosecutors begin to build their case against Paxton, now sworn in as attorney general. News breaks that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Servergy, a McKinney tech firm Paxton had invested in. In July, Paxton is indicted by a Collin County grand jury. In late August, Paxton pleads not guilty.

December 2015

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Special prosecutor pay dispute begins

In December, Paxton donor Jeff Blackard sues, arguing that the county is paying the special prosecutors too much.

Early 2016

Cost disputes continue

In February, the Texas Ethics Commission rules that Paxton may not accept out-of-state donations to fund his legal defense. Because the charges are unrelated to his public office, Paxton also cannot use campaign funds. Questions emerge about how he is funding his top-dollar legal defense.

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Spring 2016

Federal charges emerge

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission files civil charges against Paxton for allegedly misleading investors in a technology company. Paxton releases a video defending himself and calling the state’s prosecution political. In June, he fails to get the state’s criminal charges against him dismissed by an appeals court.

July 2016

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Friends fund Paxton’s defense

Financial disclosure statements reveal that Paxton accepted more than $329,000 in gifts from wealthy donors and “family friends” to fund his legal defense. Paxton will maintain this strategy.

January 2017

Trial set for May

After Paxton fails to get the state’s criminal charges against him dismissed, his trial is set for May 2017.

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March 2017

Paxton cleared of SEC charges; state criminal trial moved, delayed

In Paxton’s biggest win yet, a federal judge throws out the federal securities fraud case against him.

May 2017

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Collin County stops halts prosecutors’ payments

The Collin County Commissioners Court votes to cease payments to the special prosecutors working on the Paxton case.

August 2017

Court voids payment to prosecutors

The Dallas Court of Appeals voids a six-figure payment to the special prosecutors, threatening the future of the case.

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October 2017

Trial delayed again

A new judge, Robert Johnson of Harris County, agrees to delay the trial for the third time as prosecutors argue they should not have to go to court before they collect a paycheck.

December 2017

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With pay dispute pending, trial remains delayed

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, agrees to hear the pay dispute. The long-delayed trial is put off indefinitelyas attorneys await a decision.

Fall-Winter 2018

Paxton wins reelection; pay ruling imperils case against him

Paxton runs for reelection against Democrat Justin Nelson, a formidable opponent who centers his campaign on the indictment. Weeks after Paxton narrowly wins a second term, the Court of Criminal Appeals sides against the prosecutors in the pay dispute, ruling that the six-figure payments they had expected fell outside legal limits. The prosecutors ask the high court to reconsider its decision to ensure the court’s proceedings “appear fair to all who observe them.”

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June 2019

Court upholds ruling against Paxton prosecutors

After sitting on the motion for six months, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declines to reconsider its ruling, leaving the future of the prosecution in question.


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