AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton lost what’s likely his final chance of shedding criminal securities fraud charges against him on Wednesday, setting the stage for the state’s top prosecutor to stand trial as early as next year.
The Republican twice lost in previous attempts to dismiss the indictments that came six months after he took office in 2015. Paxton has pleaded not guilty to accusations that he misled wealthy investors he personally recruited for a high-tech startup in 2011.
The Republican-dominated Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, did not issue any explanation in rejecting Paxton’s request to have his appeal heard a third time.
“Today’s ruling marks an end to Mr. Paxton’s almost yearlong attempt to avoid being judged by a jury of his peers. We look forward to going to trial and seeking justice on behalf of the people of Texas,” special prosecutor Brian Wice said.
A Paxton spokesman did not immediately comment. No trial date has been set, but a trial is unlikely to begin before early next year.
The ruling comes just days after a federal judge threw out nearly identical civil charges against Paxton. The collapse of the civil case brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission gave Paxton a long-sought court victory over allegations that he deceived investors in a high-tech startup called Servergy Inc. by not disclosing the company was paying him.
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant “conditionally granted” the dismissal of the civil lawsuit Friday, saying federal regulators lacked enough facts to keep their case moving forward. But Mazzant gave the SEC two weeks to potentially refile the charges.
Paxton has spent most of his 20 months on the job under felony indictment. The allegations have shadowed Paxton while he has built his profile nationally, leading lawsuits against the Obama administration over immigration, transgender rights and Syrian refugees.