New Oral Arguments Date Set in Perry Abuse of Power Case
Also, outgoing Education Commissioner Michael Williams reflects on his accomplishments and pending challenges.
Texas' highest criminal court has rescheduled oral arguments in the abuse-of-power case against former Gov. Rick Perry.
The state's Court of Criminal Appeals originally set Nov. 4 as the date on which it would hear oral arguments in its review of a lower court's decision to dismiss one of two charges against Perry. Both the former governor and State Prosecuting Attorney Lisa McMinn are challenging the ruling.
David Botsford, Perry's top lawyer handling the appeal, asked the court Thursday to move the date, indicating it conflicted with a prepaid trip to Italy with his wife. A day later, the court granted Botsford's request and rescheduled oral arguments for Nov. 14.
Perry was indicted in August of last year. He was accused of overstepping his authority in threatening to slash state funding for a unit in the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who refused to step down following a drunk-driving arrest.
December is setting up as a big month for Texas in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in a couple of Texas-generated cases — Evenwel v. Abbott and Fisher v. University of Texas — guaranteed to grab headlines.
The court will take up oral arguments in Evenwel on Dec. 8. The case tackles the question of whether Texas should use total population or eligible voters when crafting districts.
Fisher’s case, which will have its arguments heard on Dec. 9, challenges UT’s admissions policy.
Asked about his proudest accomplishments during his three-year tenure, outgoing Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams noted that morale has improved at the Texas Education Agency.
“The agency had been beaten on, criticized by stakeholders from all sides,” Williams told The Texas Tribune. Now, “my staff feels good about themselves and they feel good about the work they do.”
Williams also said the agency is underfunded, with more than one-third fewer full-time employees than it had five years ago.
“There is no doubt that the agency is pushed to do a whole lot more with not enough,” he said.
Williams informed Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday that he would step down from his post, effective Jan. 1.
In an interview, Williams also touted changes made to the state’s accountability system during his tenure. Asked about something he wished he had gotten done, he cited ongoing discussions with the federal government over the state’s No Child Left Behind waiver.
"I would hope that we could complete the conversation with the national government with regards to the waiver and impress upon them that there ought to be more than one way to assess student growth and that student tests … should not be the only way that we measure” it, he told the Tribune.
State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, was uninjured in an accident Monday afternoon at Dallas Love Field when his plane ran into a fence, according to his spokesperson Becky Womack. The senator was alone on the plane at the time.
Womack said Seliger did not suffer any injuries and the incident occurred in a “non-movement area” at the airfield.
"Thanks for the calls," Seliger tweeted after the incident. "Everything is fine."
In April, the senator was in a motorcycle accident in Austin and underwent elbow and ankle surgery.
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