As we have shared with you in the past, in July of 2021, LDAD and 16 distinguished Texas lawyers, including four former State Bar of Texas Presidents, filed an ethics complaint against Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton. Today we are providing you with an update to this action.
As you may recall, our complaint (and those of other petitioners to the State Bar) focused on Mr. Paxton’s Supreme Court lawsuit, Texas v. Pennsylvania, et al., in which he sought to have the Court effectively overturn the 2020 presidential election by preventing the four defendant States - Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin - from voting in the Electoral College.
On May 25, 2022, the State Bar of Texas filed a Disciplinary Petition alleging that Mr. Paxton made multiple “dishonest” representations to the Court, including that “an outcome determinative number of votes were tied to unregistered voters.” LDAD’s complaint provided analysis and arguments supportive of two of the Petition’s claims of “misrepresentation” by Mr. Paxton: that Texas had standing to sue the defendant States, and that these States had “unconstitutionally revised their state’s election statutes.”
The Petition claims that Mr. Paxton’s “misrepresentations” violate Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct 8.04(a)(3): “A lawyer shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.”
This May 25 Disciplinary Petition is an important step in the process of seeking accountability for Mr. Paxton, and represents a milestone in a lengthy process that is deliberative and cautious. These multiple stages include: a determination by Texas’s Chief Disciplinary Counsel (CDC) that the complaint is facially valid; complainants’ preparation of a response to Mr. Paxton’s opposition; an investigation by the CDC followed by an investigatory hearing by a panel of lawyers; and a CDC finding of “Just Cause” to believe that Mr. Paxton had engaged in professional misconduct.
A license to practice law is not a license to misuse the courts to seek to overthrow our democracy. Lawyers Defending American Democracy is appreciative of the significant time and effort spent by the State Bar of Texas developing the Disciplinary Petition against Mr. Paxton for professional misconduct in making serious misrepresentations to the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Under Texas rules, Mr. Paxton has 20 days after being served with the Disciplinary Petition to file his answer. Mr. Paxton has elected to have his trial before a State District Court judge and jury. The trial needs to be within 180 days from filing the answer, “except for good cause [.]”
Gershon (Gary) Ratner,
Co-Founder of LDAD and principal author of its disciplinary complaint against Mr. Paxton