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Perry Lawyers Will Challenge Indictment Next Week

A lawyer for Gov. Rick Perry told a judge Friday that he will challenge felony charges that arose from Gov. Rick Perry's threat to veto state funding for public corruption prosecutions if the Travis County District Attorney would not resign.

Austin attorney David Botsford speaks to the media after Gov. Rick Perry's indictment on August 18, 2014.

A lawyer for Gov. Rick Perry said Friday he will challenge felony charges that the governor overstepped his authority when he said he would veto state funding for Travis County prosecutors if District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg would not resign her post. 

David Botsford, an attorney for Perry, informed Visiting Judge Bert Richardson he plans to file a writ of habeas corpus challenging the constitutionality of the laws underlying the two-count indictment against Perry.

“It will speak for itself,” Botsford told reporters. He said his challenge would be based on the governor’s power to veto and his First Amendment rights.

Grand jurors indicted Perry on Aug. 15, saying he coerced a public servant and abused his official capacity of governor when he threatened to veto $7.5 million in state funds to the public corruption unit of the Travis County District Attorney's office if Lehmberg refused to step down following her April 2013 drunk driving arrest.

On Wednesday, Perry was fingerprinted and photographed by the Travis County Sheriff’s Department and released on a personal recognizance bond. By the next day the governor had waived his right to an arraignment that was scheduled for Friday in part because he is traveling in New Hampshire, an early presidential primary state, this weekend. Perry entered a not guilty plea.

Both Botsford and Michael McCrum, the San Antonio defense attorney who was appointed the special prosecutor in the case, met with Judge Richardson Friday. After a 35-minute meeting in the judge’s chambers, the two attorneys came out and Richardson informed the court Botsford would turn in his challenges to the indictment by Aug. 29.

Once those objections have been filed, McCrum will file his responses and the first full hearing in the Perry criminal case will be scheduled.

Outside the courtroom, McCrum declined to talk about his strategy or address criticism about the indictment returned against the governor.

“I think it’s appropriate to approach this case in a court of law,” said McCrum, who anticipated that a trial on the matter would not take place until next year. 

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