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Harriet O’Neill, a Republican former justice on the Texas Supreme Court, has joined the team of lawyers who will be prosecuting suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton during his Senate impeachment trial.
O’Neill, who served 12 years on the state’s highest civil court before stepping down in 2010, is an accomplished attorney who also served as a state district judge and as a justice on the Houston-based 14th Court of Appeals. In 2002 and 2006, she was named the appellate justice of the year by the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists.
O’Neill said she was proud to join the legal team, which also includes prominent Houston lawyers Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin, assembled by House impeachment managers to present the legal case for impeachment in a trial before the Texas Senate to begin Sept. 5.
“The facts in this case are clear, compelling and decisive, and I look forward to presenting them before the members of the Texas Senate,” she said in a statement.
State Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, who leads the House General Investigating Committee and the Board of Impeachment Managers, called O’Neill a “respected, conservative jurist.”
“As a longtime judge and elected official, she understands the gravity of this matter and its importance to the state of Texas,” Murr said in a statement.
O’Neill returned to private practice in 2010 and often works as an arbitrator and mediator in complex, multiparty cases, according to her Austin law firm’s website.
In a separate development in the impeachment case, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — who presides over the Senate and is serving the role of judge in the impeachment trial — issued a discovery order Wednesday requiring House impeachment managers to share relevant information and documents with Paxton’s legal team.
The order was requested by Paxton’s lead defense lawyer, Tony Buzbee, who had accused the impeachment team of withholding information vital to the defense.
The discovery order requires impeachment lawyers to turn over documents, including business records and law enforcement reports, that are relevant to the impeachment proceedings. It also ordered impeachment lawyers to turn over physical evidence, photographs, and government and business records that will be used in the trial.
Impeachment lawyers will also have to disclose to Paxton’s defense team any known convictions of people they plan to call as witnesses and the names and addresses of expert witnesses.
After receiving Patrick’s order, House impeachment lawyers said they had already planned on submitting the information to Buzbee.
“Paxton’s lawyers ignored our efforts to cooperate, instead filing their unauthorized demands and trying to create a spectacle in the media,” DeGuerin and Hardin wrote in a statement. “The Lieutenant Governor has ordered us to produce exactly what we intended to produce from the beginning and we are happy to comply.”
Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.
Disclosure: Tony Buzbee, Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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