Collin County Again Challenges Cost of Paxton Case Ahead of Fraud Hearing This Week

AUSTIN — Collin County may soon challenge the constitutionality of Texas law, its latest attempt to push back against the growing cost of prosecuting Attorney General Ken Paxton.On Monday, the Commissioners Court voted to hire lawyers to look into whether the county can challenge a state law that sets rules for how to pay court-appointed attorneys, including public defenders and special prosecutors who investigate official wrongdoing.The Texas Fair Defense Act gives power to local judges to set "reasonable" wages for these attorneys, a power that County Judge Keith Self said should be in the hands of commissioners."On the surface, it seems to violate the separation of powers and the fact that the Commissioners Court controls the county checkbook," Self said Tuesday, after the court decided to retain counsel. "We're concerned about the unfettered and open access to the county checkbook by judges."Paxton's criminal fraud case has been a political and legal headache for Collin County, which is on the hook to pay for the investigation and prosecution into whether he violated state securities laws. As the case's costs have mounted to more than half a million dollars, so too have attempts to cut off the three lawyers pursuing the charges against the attorney general.The lawyers' paychecks have been put on hold because of a lawsuit by a Paxton donor that's pending in Dallas appeals court. The drama will continue this week, when Paxton's attorneys appear in court ahead of his May 1 fraud trial.  Continue reading...

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