Ken Paxton

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

A contempt hearing set for next week against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been canceled.

Federal court Judge Orlando Garcia canceled the hearing, writing that Paxton and the other state officials— Governor Greg Abbott and interim Commissioner of the Texas State Department of Health and Human Services Kirk Cole — have complied with the court's Aug. 5 order to amend the death certificate of one member of a married same-sex couple and to issue state policy guidelines for recognizing legal same-sex marriages on birth and death certificates.

Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

From the Texas Tribune

FORT WORTH — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's first courtroom appearance as a criminal defendant was a 30-minute affair in which Paxton's lead lawyer quit for unspecified reasons, the attorney general requested that no cameras be allowed at his trial and the judge admonished everyone to limit public statements about the case.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Attorney General Ken Paxton has been in the headlines a lot as of recent. Not in the way his predecessor and current boss Greg Abbott used to (typically, by announcing that he was suing the federal government), but rather by vowing to fight against indictments on three securities fraud felonies for actions he took during his time as a state senator.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton avoided contempt of court charges this week by issuing a death certificate to the surviving member of a same-sex married couple that was amended to refer to the men as one another’s husbands, rather than significant others. The AG also said the state would acknowledge same-sex marriages on death certificates and list both same-sex parents on birth certificates going forward.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

In an emergency motion filed Monday in federal court in San Antonio, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked that the court rescind the order requiring the AG to appear in court Wednesday to face possible contempt charges for disobeying a ban on state same-sex marriage bans in a case involving a death certificate for a same-sex couple.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton may face contempt of court charges next week for his part in denying a married same-sex couple a death certificate acknowledging their marriage.

A lawsuit was filed against Paxton today in federal court in San Antonio by James Stone-Hoskins, on behalf of himself and his partner, John Allen Stone-Hoskins, who died in January. James wants the death certificate to note that he and John Allen were married — the couple wed in New Mexico in 2014 — but as of now it lists him as a 'significant other.'

Collin County Jail

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton turned himself in to authorities in Collin County this morning. He's charged with three felonies relating to his solicitation of investments in a technology company.

He was immediately released from Collin County Jail on $35,000 bond after booking.

Two of the charges — first-degree felony securities fraud — carry the possibility of hefty jail sentences. 

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

From our political reporting partners at The Texas Tribune

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton confirmed on Wednesday that a video obtained by his office as part of its investigation into Planned Parenthood's practices is “consistent” with other undercover videos released by an anti-abortion group of the organization’s executives discussing fetal tissue donations.

Testifying before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Paxton said his office had “gained possession” of “hours of recordings” involving a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas as part of its inquiry into Planned Parenthood’s practices regarding fetal tissue donation in Texas. Paxton declined to go into specifics about the recordings and how they were obtained.

Instead, Paxton detailed a recent visit by AG investigators to a Planned Parenthood facility in Houston where they witnessed how the abortion provider handles fetal remains before they are sent to a contractor who disposes them.

State Seeks to Dismiss Lawsuit Over Birth Certificates

Jul 23, 2015
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday asked a federal district judge to dismiss a lawsuit that claims a state agency violated the U.S. Constitution by denying birth certificates to U.S.-citizen children of immigrant parents.

Attorneys with Paxton’s office said that the Texas Department of State Health Services, which is being sued by 17 families living in Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties, has sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment and cannot be sued in federal court because it has not waived that right, according to court documents. 

The immunity extends to interim DSHS Commissioner Kirk Cole and State Registrar Geraldine Harris, who are also named as defendants in the suit, Paxton's office argues.

Laura Buckman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Roughly 150 Texas attorneys have signed on to a letter threatening to file a complaint with the State Bar of Texas against Attorney General Ken Paxton for his response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

"It seems to us that your edict to encourage Texas clerks to violate a direct ruling of the United States Supreme Court violates" the State Bar's rules requiring attorneys to uphold the U.S. Constitution, the letter states. 

Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment on Friday morning. After the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, he issued an opinion telling Texas clerks they did not have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it violated their religious beliefs — though he suggested that they could face litigation.

Prosecutors Developing Criminal Case Against Paxton

Jul 2, 2015
Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: The potential criminal case against Attorney General Ken Paxton is apparently growing more serious, with the state's top lawyer hiring heavyweight legal counsel of his own as special prosecutors prepare to take felony charges before a Collin County grand jury.

Late Wednesday, special prosecutor Kent Schaffer said he and co-counsel Brian Wice plan to start presenting evidence to the grand jury in less than a month that Paxton violated the Texas Securities Act. 

"We'll be pursuing an indictment for first-degree felony securities fraud," Schaffer said, confirming a WFAA report.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

UPDATE Monday 1 p.m. A Texas State Senator is asking the Department of Justice to monitor and intervene, if necessary, in Texas' implementation of the Supreme Court's ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.

The request comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an advisory opinion yesterday, saying some government officials could refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, if they object on religious grounds.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

A Collin County grand jury will hear a case against Attorney General Ken Paxton next month, according to a special prosecutor investigating whether Paxton has violated state securities law. 

Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune, Michael Stravato and Cooper Neill

You probably already know that Texans will be electing a new governor next month. But the absence of Governor Rick Perry from the ballot has had a domino effect on other state-wide offices.

Meaning we'll also be electing new people to all 7 of the top state-wide offices. That includes Attorney General. KUT's All Things Considered host Nathan Bernier and Political Reporter Ben Philpott will help explain what the office does and who's running to be the state's next top lawyer, 

Ben: This office, like many, can take on the personality and priorities of the office holder. Especially, if you've been in that office for more than a decade, like current Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Photo by KUT News

And then there were three.

State Rep. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) has announced he's running to be the next Speaker of the Texas House.  The Associated Press reports that Rep. Paxton has thrown his hat into the ring because voters sent a message "that they favor leadership dedicated to protecting our freedoms and fighting government growth."

Conservative Republicans have been critical of current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) for not being conservative enough.  Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) has already announced that he's challenging Rep. Straus for the Speaker's chair.