WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry will make his first court appearance on Halloween as his defense team tries to quash the two felony counts of abuse of power against him on both constitutional and technical grounds.
The Republican was on a state economic mission to Europe and was granted permission to skip a pretrial hearing Monday in Austin, where state District Judge Bert Richardson set the next court date.
“Because this affects the case, the judge has ruled that he, like other defendants, needs to appear in court,” special prosecutor Michael McCrum said of Perry after the hearing. The governor, meanwhile, is set to address the Royal United Services Institute in London on Tuesday.
During the upcoming court appearance, Perry’s attorneys will argue that McCrum was never properly sworn in, and also that he should produce transcripts of secret grand jury testimony for the judge to review. McCrum joked with reporters that the governor’s legal team is throwing the kitchen sink at him.
“There’s been a couple of dishes thrown into the sink, and so we’re having to go through them one by one,” he said. “But I’m confident everything’s going to proceed in a good fashion.”
Also Monday, the judge set a Nov. 7 deadline for McCrum to file written responses to the defense’s two motions to quash.
Perry was indicted in August by an Austin grand jury after publicly threatening — and then carrying out — a veto of state funding for public corruption prosecutors. He promised the veto after the Democratic district attorney who oversees the investigative unit, Rosemary Lehmberg, refused to resign following her conviction for drunken driving.
The defense has since filed two motions, one arguing that the case is unconstitutional because Perry was within his rights to issue the veto, and the other seeking to throw it out on technicalities, including whether McCrum was properly sworn in and if Lehmberg filed appropriate paperwork to recuse herself from the case.
Richardson, a San Antonio Republican, appointed McCrum special prosecutor. The case against Perry grew out of a complaint from a left-leaning government watchdog group in Austin, but Lehmberg’s office hasn’t been involved in investigating it.
McCrum says he was properly sworn in and that he and Lehmberg filed the necessary paperwork.
In brief comments after Monday’s hearing, Tony Buzbee, a Houston-based attorney for Perry, responded “I’ve seen some paperwork, I’m not sure it resolves the issue.”
On the grand jury transcripts, Perry’s attorneys want Richardson to review them, saying they are necessary for him to rule on their requests to dismiss the indictments. They’ve argued that McCrum has said he’s too busy to call the grand jury court reporter to order the transcripts.
McCrum said asking for grand jury transcripts was “quite unusual” and that he wants to protect grand jurors and witnesses they heard.
“But that’s fine,” McCrum said. “We’re not here to hide anything, we just want to follow procedures and law.”