Attorney General Paxton Launches Final Appeal in Securities Fraud Case

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is appealing the securities fraud charges against him to the state's highest criminal court, in one last bid to dismiss the case before it goes to trial.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, accompanied by his wife, Angela, left, speaks to the media after leaving the Fifth Court of Appeals on May 12, 2016 in Dallas.

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

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is appealing the securities fraud charges against him to the state's highest criminal court, in one last bid to dismiss the case before it potentially goes to trial.

Paxton's attorneys filed the appeal Tuesday with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, asking the Austin-based court to do away with the three felony indictments facing the attorney general. The case, now more than a year old, centers on allegations that Paxton misled investors in private business dealings from before his time as attorney general. 

"Ken Paxton has been charged with a crime that simply doesn't exist, using a grand jury that was improperly impaneled," Paxton lawyer Bill Mateja said in a statement. "This petition was filed with the Court of Criminal Appeals to not only correct the lower court's mistake but to end this improper prosecution."

The special prosecutors handling Paxton's case countered that a lower appeals court has already ruled that many of the issues Paxton is bringing up cannot be addressed before trial. Earlier this year, the Dallas-based Fifth Court of Appeals rejected an attempt by Paxton to get rid of the charges ahead of time.

"By simply asking for a 'do-over,' Mr. Paxton's petition falls far short of the exacting standard he must meet before the State's highest criminal court will review a court of appeals' decision," read a statement from the prosecutors, Kent Schaffer and Brian Wice. 

The Court of Criminal Appeals now must decide whether to take up Paxton's appeal. If it does, Paxton's lawyers are asking judges to consider the case through briefs and without oral argument. 

In April, the Court of Criminal Appeals was a saving grace for another Texas Republican politician: former Gov. Rick Perry, whose abuse-of-power charges it dismissed after a legal saga that stretched on for more than a year and a half. The court also was responsible in 2014 for upholding the dismissal of money-laundering and conspiracy charges against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the Sugar Land Republican whose appellate lawyer was Wice. 

Paxton has so far been unsuccessful in multiple attempts to derail the case before trial. The latest setback came last month, when the Fifth Court of Appeals declined to rehear a challenge to the indictments.

Paxton is fighting two first-degree felony charges and one third-degree felony charge for allegedly convincing people to invest in a technology company without disclosing that he was making a commission. He has pleaded not guilty in the case. 

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is pursuing similar charges against Paxton in a more recent case. Paxton also denies those allegations.