The Texas Tribune is your source for in-depth reporting on the Ken Paxton impeachment trial. Readers make that possible. Support authoritative Texas journalism with a donation now.
The impeachment trial for suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton is set to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Senate chamber of the Texas Capitol.
The Senate gallery will be open to the public daily, beginning at 8 a.m., with tickets distributed for the morning session on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 7:30 a.m. on the Capitol’s third floor. Tickets for the afternoon session will be distributed 45 minutes before the gallery reopens. The trial also will be livestreamed on the Texas Senate’s website and at texastribune.org.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will act as judge. Senators, serving as jurors, will consider 16 of 20 articles of impeachment. The Senate previously voted to delay consideration of the other four. Paxton’s wife, Sen. Angela Paxton, will sit as a member of the court but will not vote on any decisions or participate in private deliberations.
The trial will begin with the court clerk reading aloud the 16 articles. Paxton, who was ordered to appear in person, or his lawyer will plead guilty or not guilty to each article. On the first day of the trial, some witnesses are also ordered to appear outside the front door of the Senate chamber at 11 a.m.
Rulings on pretrial motions
The court will begin its work by ruling on pretrial motions. Any motion to dismiss an article of impeachment must be approved by a majority of senators, at least 16 members. Patrick can rule on any other motion, or he can ask senators to vote on a motion without debate or discussion.
Patrick can also defer a ruling on motions — including dismissal of an article — until after evidence is presented at trial if that evidence would help answer the question.
Opening statements and presentation of evidence
The House managers will be first to offer an opening statement. Paxton's lawyers can choose to make a statement afterward or wait until they begin presenting evidence. Each side has up to one hour.
The House managers’ lawyers will present their case first. Each side has a total of 24 hours to present witnesses and evidence and cross-examine the opposition’s witnesses. After both sides present their evidence, each side will have one hour to present rebuttal evidence.
Witnesses will testify under oath.
Final arguments, deliberations and the Senate vote
Each side has up to one hour to make final arguments. Following that, Senators will meet in private to deliberate.
The 30 eligible senators will return to open court to vote separately on each article without debate or discussion, though they will have three days to submit a written explanation of their votes for publication in the Senate Journal.
Senators will submit a written vote on the question: “Shall this article of impeachment be sustained?” For each article, the court clerk will read, in random order, how each senator voted.
Paxton would be immediately removed from office if two-thirds of senators, or 21, vote to sustain an article of impeachment. A finding of acquittal would be entered for any article not sustained.
If an article is sustained, the House impeachment managers can ask senators to prohibit Paxton from holding future public office in Texas. Each side would have 15 minutes to argue their position. Approval requires support from 21 senators.
After the articles of impeachment votes
If Paxton is acquitted on all articles, he would be cleared to return to office.
If there is a conviction on any article of impeachment, Paxton would be removed from office, and the House board of managers could ask senators for a follow-up vote to disqualify Paxton from holding future office. Before that vote, which also requires two-thirds support, each side would have 15 minutes to present arguments.
What has happened so far
The move to impeach Paxton started in late May when the House General Investigating Committee revealed its investigation. Within days, the House voted overwhelmingly to impeach the attorney general.