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Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Agrees to Review Perry Indictment

Texas' highest criminal court has agreed to review the abuse-of-power case against former Gov. Rick Perry.

Gov. Rick Perry speaks to reporters on Aug. 16, 2014, the day after a grand jury indicted him on two felony counts related to his veto of public integrity unit funding.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout. 

Texas' highest criminal court has agreed to review the abuse-of-power case against former Gov. Rick Perry.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday granted requests by both Perry and the Office of the State Prosecuting Attorney to determine whether the indictment against Perry should stand. The court set oral arguments for Nov. 4. 

Perry was indicted more than a year ago on charges he abused his power and coerced a public servant. The case stemmed from his threat to veto state funding for a unit of the Travis County district attorney's office unless its head stepped down following a drunk-driving arrest. 

In July, the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals dismissed the charge that Perry coerced a public servant, saying the law related to it violated the First Amendment. Both Perry and State Prosecuting Attorney Lisa McMinn appealed that ruling, but for different reasons: Perry wanted both charges, not just one, thrown out, while McMinn objected to the court striking down a part of the Texas penal code that defines coercion.

Each side has until Oct. 21 to file briefs with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which said it would not consider any requests for more time. Perry's lawyers had pressed for an even more compressed timeline, asking the court to skip oral arguments altogether.

The Wednesday ruling is the first major development in the case since Perry dropped out of the 2016 presidential race last month. He has since cited the indictment as a reason his second bid for the White House never gained traction. 

The former governor has maintained the case is politically motivated. He followed through on his veto after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, refused to resign. At the time, her office housed the Public Integrity Unit, which investigated political corruption. 

In another ruling Wednesday, the Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a bid by Perry's prosecutors to put a hold on all trial court proceedings while the case plays out at the higher court. Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor handling the indictment, had requested the stay to avoid "piecemeal litigation," but Perry's lawyers objected, arguing the request went against previous statements the prosecutors had made expressing readiness for a trial. 

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Courts Criminal justice Politics Rick Perry