With the Senate trial in the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on the horizon, his lawyers argue three Democrat senators should be disqualified from participating after showing bias in the case.

In a pretrial motion, Paxton’s legal team argues that State Sens. José Menendez (D–San Antonio), Roland Gutierrez (D–San Antonio), and Nathan Johnson (D–Dallas) should not take part in the trial. 

“A basic principle of due process is that the accused is entitled to an unbiased jury. Like numerous courts around the country, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has held for almost a century that potential jurors with a bias or prejudice against the accused are disqualified from serving on his jury as a matter of law,” the motion states:

Jurors José Menendez, Roland Gutierrez, and Nathan Johnson have such a bias and have proclaimed it loudly, time and again. Gutierrez, for example, has said that the evidence against the Attorney General “could not be refuted.” But that is the purpose of a defense—to attempt to refute the prosecution’s evidence—and the function of a trial—to determine whether that evidence has proven charges beyond a reasonable doubt. No one who has publicly declared the charges against a defendant irrefutable can even play at impartiality, let alone serve in an impartial manner. And Menendez and Johnson are no better.

Paxton’s team pointed toward other evidence of bias, such as Menendez accusing Paxton of “bribery and wrongdoing” within the last year. Johnson, meanwhile, had previously said Paxton was “making reckless legal decisions, and that he cares more for right-wing politics than for students and their education.”

After the motion was filed, the House impeachment managers responded by saying they opposed the effort, saying they “trust that all Senators previously determined to be eligible to vote will follow their constitutional obligation to impartially try Mr. Paxton.”

The Senate, however, has already determined that State Sen. Angela Paxton (R–McKinney)—the attorney general’s spouse—is ineligible to vote on the impeachment. That decision, as well as a gag order placed on all trial participants, is being challenged in a lawsuit filed last week. 

The Senate’s impeachment trial is scheduled to begin on September 5 in the Texas Senate to determine whether Paxton will be removed from office.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens