Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton might have crossed an ethical line after inciting members of the public to pressure The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals into issuing a ruling in his favor.
Micheal Shirk, a retired Austin lawyer caught wind of what Paxton was up to and filed a complaint with the State Bar of Texas.
Paxton’s action violated his duty as a lawyer, his oath to defend the Texas Constitution, and a state law that requires attorneys to practice law honestly, according to a grievance filed Friday by Shirk, as reported by Austin American-StatesMan.
Paxton, the Texas attorney general since 2015, requested the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reverse the 8-1 ruling that struck down the law that ended his ability to unilaterally prosecute election law violations.
After being rejected, Paxton turned to media outlets to solicit his followers’ help.
First, Paxton appeared on Lindell TV, an online forum by MyPillow Ceo and Mike Lindell on Jan. 17.
“Call them out by name,” Paxton continued. “I mean, you can look them up. There’s eight of them that voted the wrong way. Call them, send mail, send email.”
Paxton also questioned whether the judges were true Republicans and called their decision part of a far-reaching conspiracy to help Democrats win Texas elections.
In his grievance to the State Bar, Shirk made three allegations that would result in Paxton losing his Texas law license:
- The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, the ethics code governing conduct for judges and lawyers place strict limits on the contact attorneys can have with judges outside of court.
- Paxton supported calling the Legislature back for a special session to pass an identical or stronger law than the one struck down by the court.
This would let him investigate and process voter fraud for at least several years until the Court of Criminal Appeals would “strike it down again,” as reported by Austin American-StatesMan.
“This undisputed advocacy for an unconstitutional law is a basis for the revocation of Mr. Paxton’s bar license,” Shirk wrote. “There is no greater abuse of public office than to encourage the subversion and suspension of constitutional protections, even if for only ‘several years.’”
- When Paxton accused the court of having made the ruling because of political motivations, it was considered “systematic and coordinated misconduct.”
“These unsupportable, perfidious, and demeaning assertions are especially grave when issued by the highest law enforcement officer in Texas,” Shirk told the State Bar.
According to The Houston Chronicle, this marks the third bar complaint against Paxton to become public in the last year; the first two alleged Paxton committed professional misconduct by filing a December 2020 suit at the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn election results for Trump.