*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
The special prosecutor pressing criminal charges against Gov. Rick Perry will not be disqualified from the case over questions around the oath of office he took. A judge ruled Tuesday that the prosecutor was properly sworn into office.
"This court concludes that [Special Prosecutor Michael] McCrum's authority was not voided by the procedural irregularities," Visiting Judge Bert Richardson wrote in a 16-page ruling filed in Austin.
On Nov. 6, Perry watched his attorneys argue in court that McCrum was improperly sworn in as special prosecutor more than a year ago. Perry attorney Tony Buzbee said the Texas Constitution required McCrum to sign an anti-bribery statement before taking his oath. McCrum testified that he did the reverse, taking the oath first.
Buzbee said he and co-counsel David Botsford "respectfully disagree with the judge, but as always, will respect the court’s decisions and will await his further rulings."
Buzbee also said he and Botsford were confident they will prevail on other challenges and "expect a favorable ruling ending this case hopefully by the end of November."
Richardson is expected to rule on previous challenges made by the Perry team to the indictment by the end of November or in early December. No hearing on those issues is scheduled.
Grand jurors indicted Perry over his threat in 2013 to veto funding for a state watchdog unit housed at the Travis County district attorney's office. Perry made the threat after DA Rosemary Lehmberg refused to step down from office following her drunken driving arrest and conviction. He eventually made good on the threat, withholding $7.5 million in state funds for the unit. He was charged on Aug. 15 on one count of abuse of official capacity and one count of coercion of a public official.
After that hearing, Perry told reporters he did not regret his actions.
“I stand behind my authority, and I would do it again," Perry said. "I stand behind that veto, and I would make that veto again."
In an unrelated matter, a judge late Monday cleared McCrum of a contempt charge in San Antonio. Bexar County prosecutors had accused the San Antonio defense lawyer of telling a witness to "get lost for a while" to avoid testifying during the punishment phase of a 2013 intoxication manslaughter trial.
Disclosure: Tony Buzbee has been a major donor to The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
- Perry Judge Ruling On Prosecutor's Oath (797.1 KB) DOWNLOAD