The 2023 attempt to impeach Attorney General Warren Kenneth Paxton was doomed from the start for multiple reasons; not the least of which was the failure of the House to follow the well-established and time-tested principle of “due process.” Specifically:
1. Investigation goal: instead of seeking TRUTH and JUSTICE, they sought IMPEACHMENT.
2. No testimony was required or allowed to be given under oath.
3. No cross examination was allowed for any witness.
4. Second-, third-, and fourth-hand hearsay was accepted without question.
5. No House member was allowed to hear direct testimony.
6. Full house required to vote after hearing only hearsay summaries by House Managers.
Had the House simple required all testimony be given under oath as required by law and witnesses allowed to be cross examined by the defense, the House would most likely have reached the same conclusion as the Senate, because they would have seen that there was insufficient evidence to convict on “probable cause,” much less “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Clearly, the House goal was IMPEACHMENT. Their goal should have been TRUTH and JUSTICE. Thus, the House failed in their job of requiring EVIDENCE to guide them to the right goal. After reviewing thousands of pages of documents and over 40 hours of testimony, it is clear that the prosecution could not produce any meaningful evident worthy of an impeachment conviction.
The failure to cross examine under oath led the House to rely on half truths, misleading information, and hearsay. Even if the House had been interested in seeking TRUTH and JUSTICE, they would not have been able to do so.
As in the words of Representative John Smithee when he spoke in opposition to the impeachment motion in the House, “You’ve heard this compared to a grand jury proceeding, and in some ways it’s like a grand jury proceeding, and in other ways it is not. But I can tell you this, no grand jury can legitimately indict any individual or any potential criminal defendant without evidence. You can’t indict without evidence, PERIOD. What you’re being asked to do today is to impeach without evidence. It is all rumor, it is all innuendo, it is all speculation, and is all things we may speculate to be true, but we don’t have what is defined or what qualifies as evidence in any court at law, not only in Texas, not only in the United States, but in most developed countries in the world. I would just say this—if I’m ever going to be part of any impeachment proceeding that results in the impeachment of an officer, I don’t want it to look like a Saturday mob out for an afternoon lynching. I want it to look like a clear, deliberative, somber, and sober exercise in the quasi-judicial function that the Constitution gives us the right to engage in.”
The trial in the Senate proved Representatives John Smithee, Brian Harrison, Matt Schaefer, Tony Tinderholt, and the others who spoke against the motion in the House to be absolutely right in what they said and did by voting against the motion.
The House sent the Senate what was later stipulated in closing, as a “personal” proceeding, drawing distinction from one being either civil or criminal. This was one of the obvious reasons why the House time and time again was unable to present any meaningful evidence on any single article that was beyond a reasonable doubt.
The “impeachment” by the House Managers was thrust upon the House body with only a 48-hour notice and without statutorily required hearing or evidentiary support, like sworn statements, for example. Additionally, the impeachment articles were advanced to the House members with an emphasis that did not honor the presumption of innocence nor fundamental constitutional protections.
The ensuing trial unraveled for the House because the prosecution relied upon a standard: “what else could it be, nothing else makes sense”, instead of dutifully following Texas jurisprudence, statutes and the Constitution. In the end, the trial illuminated Proverbs 18:17, “He who speaks first seems right until another comes to examine him.”
Texans deserve better. As our Lt Governor, Dan Patrick said, we must have legislation to prevent the continuation of the perversion of DUE PROCESS when behavior by an elected official is THOUGHT or SUSPECTED to be a cause for removal from office. Hearsay is not meaningful evidence.
The shortcut the House took by bypassing due process led them down the wrong path to a trial where the scarcity of evidence left the Senate unable to get “beyond a reasonable doubt.” THIS must never happen again.
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