Perry lawyers seek order for grand jury testimony

JIM VERTUNO, Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Lawyers for indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked a judge Friday to order the special prosecutor in the case to produce transcripts of secret grand jury testimony.

Perry’s attorneys say the transcripts are needed for the judge to properly review their previous requests to dismiss the indictment. In their court filing, they say special prosecutor Michael McCrum has said he’s “too busy” to call the grand jury court reporter to order the transcripts and would only do so if ordered by the judge.

McCrum said he hasn’t reviewed the filing and declined comment in advance of a Monday status hearing on the case. Perry, who had previously scheduled a state business trip to Europe, has been excused from attending that hearing.

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Perry was indicted on two felony counts of abuse of power for threatening to veto state funding for a public corruption investigative unit. The governor issued the promised veto after the Democratic district attorney who oversees the unit refused to resign following her drunken-driving conviction.

Perry, a Republican, has denied all wrongdoing, calling the case a political ploy. Perry is not running for re-election this year but is considering running for president in 2016.

The governor’s legal team says the transcripts are needed for the judge to review their claims the indictment violates Perry’s rights under Constitutional free speech. They say the transcripts of the secret testimony could be filed under seal and available for either side for an appeal.

Perry’s lawyers note that several of the governor’s office staff members appeared before the grand jury, and say there’s no chance they weren’t asked about his discussions about the veto.

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“The veto and any discussions between the governor and his staff regarding a veto are most certainly covered,” by free speech protections, Perry’s lawyers wrote.