Frank Heinz

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Arraigned for Defrauding Investors, Attorney Quits

Texas top lawyer seeks representation in fraud case after arraignment

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is looking for a new lawyer after pleading not guilty Thursday morning to charges he defrauded investors.

Paxton appeared in front of Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher at 10 a.m. after the judge denied the general's request earlier this week to waive the arraignment hearing. Paxton also filed a not guilty plea through a document at that time, The Dallas Morning News reports, which was confirmed in Thursday's hearing.

Paxton released the following statement after the arraignment:

"I am innocent of these charges. It is a travesty that some would attempt to hijack our system of justice to achieve political ends they could not accomplish at the ballot box. Regardless, I will continue to serve the people of Texas as Attorney General and continue to fight for the freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution.”

After entering Paxton's not guilty plea, defense attorney Joe Kendall read a statement on behalf of the attorney general requesting that the case be tried only in Collin County and without TV cameras present.

Gallagher said he had the authority to issue whatever orders he deemed appropriate and that he would make decisions later about where future hearings will be held and whether cameras would be allowed.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton pleaded not guilty to securities fraud charges Thursday during a hearing in which he asked the judge to bar cameras from future proceedings and his high-powered lawyer resigned.

After reading the statement, Kendall asked that he be allowed to withdraw as Paxton's counsel.

"There are issues in this matter that make my continued representation something I don't personally want to persist in. I think it's in everyone's best interest if the court grants my motion," Kendall said.

In the motions, Kendall said, "During the course of this representation, differences have arisen that adversely affect the attorney client relationship making continued representation untenable."

Prosecutors didn't object to the motion but said they may in the future if it appears to be a tactic used to delay the case going to trial.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is looking for new representation after pleading not guilty to charges he defrauded investors during an arraignment in Fort Worth Thursday morning.

Dallas attorney Pete Schulte has said Paxton hired him but in court, when asked directly by the judge, Paxton said Schulte did not represent him. Paxton later clarified the comment, saying Schulte had been helping with his case.

Schulte later wrote in a tweet, "Let me be clear: I represent @KenPaxtonTX as a lawyer on his team. I am not Joe Kendall's co-counsel by Kendall's definition. That's it."

Schulte criticized Kendall in another tweet, writing, "Clarification will be forthcoming today. It's unfortunate Joe Kendall created this confusion in court today as he was leaving the team."

Paxton told the court he currently has no attorney now but expects to have a new attorney in the next week; Gallagher said that must happen by Sept. 3.

Regarding the issue of whether cameras should be allowed in the courtroom, prosecutors said they had no problem with allowing the public to watch the proceedings.

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“The public has a right to know what goes on in a courtroom,” said Prosecutor Kent Schaffer.

The attorney general, who took office in January, has been indicted on three charges, two of which are for securities fraud and the third for acting as a broker representative without a license.

Paxton had a group of supporters inside the courtroom.

“We know him. He is a man of integrity and we support him, and we wanted him to see us and know we support him,” said Lynette McCracken of Parker County.

NBC 5 reporters Scott Gordon, Julie Fine and Ellen Bryan are all reporting from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's arraignment hearing in Fort Worth. They are joined by The Dallas Morning News' Valerie Wigglesworth. All of their tweets can be seen below.
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NBC 5's Julie Fine, Scott Gordon, Todd L. Davis, Holley Ford and Frank Heinz contributed to this report.

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