Dallas Court Halts Payments to Prosecutors Building Case Against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

AUSTIN — Collin County must immediately stop paying the three lawyers prosecuting Ken Paxton's criminal fraud case, a Dallas court said Monday. The 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas will now rule on the legality of the $300-an-hour payments to the prosecutors. Their decision will determine the immediate future of the case against Paxton, the first-term attorney general who faces three felony charges of violating state securities laws.The Collin County Commissioners Court handles the local budget. Its five Republican members were scheduled to take a vote Monday on the prosecutors' latest bill, which tops $205,000 for a year's worth of work. They will delay that vote and any future payments to the prosecutors until the court rules. It's unclear whether the prosecutors will continue their work in the meantime.Collin County is on the hook to pay for Paxton's prosecution. While a case like this would usually be handled by the prosecutor, District Attorney Greg Willis recused himself because he is a friend of Paxton's and handed the case over to three private criminal defense attorneys from Houston. These three lawyers have spent the last year-and-a-half building the case against Paxton in advance of his criminal trial, scheduled to kick off May 1.Jeffory Blackard, a real estate developer who filed the lawsuit seeking to halt their pay, says the prosecutors are being paid in excess of cap the county places on some attorneys' fees. George Gallagher, the Tarrant County judge overseeing the Paxton case, has ordered Collin County to pay the prosecutors, citing an exception in the cap giving him the discretion to break it in extraordinary circumstances.The prosecutors have submitted bills totaling $510,726 since the case began in 2015. Blackard's case, which targets the prosecutors and the county, is also being paid for by the taxpayers of Collin Country. Costs associated with Blackard's case now top $106,000, bringing the grand total of Paxton-related costs to $617,159, according to the Collin County auditor.This is a developing story. Stay tuned for more information.  Continue reading...

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