AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Governor Rick Perry is making his first court appearance in the criminal case against him Thursday at Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in downtown Austin. At issue in Thursday’s hearing are two motions by Perry’s defense counsel, to obtain a copy of the grand jury testimony and to remove Michael McCrum as special prosecutor.
Perry was indicted earlier this year after he threatened to veto the funding for the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office after the Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving and was caught on video being abusive to law enforcement officers. Lehmberg refused to resign, Perry vetoed the funding, and the indictment against him alleges that the threat and then veto of the funding constituted an improper use of the power of his office. McCrum was appointed as the special prosecutor because Lehmberg’s office had an obvious conflict of interest.
Regarding the motion to remove McCrum as special prosecutor, Perry’s attorney Tony Buzbee argued to District Judge Bert Richardson that McCrum was required by the Texas Constitution to sign an anti-bribery statement before taking the oath as special prosecutor. Instead, McCrum signed the statement after the fact, “completely contrary to what the Constitution requires,” and according to Buzbee, that means that he must be removed from the case. Buzbee argued for a strict interpretation of this constitutional provision, saying, “We can’t mostly follow the constitution and we can’t legislate from the bench.”
As Breitbart Texas previously reported, Perry’s attorneys had filed a request for the transcripts of the grand jury testimony. The prosecution had objected to this request, claiming that it was an attempt to intimidate the grand jurors. McCrum has admitted that the transcripts will likely be available to Perry at at later date, but that he should not have unrestricted access to them this early in the process.
Perry is expected to make a statement after the conclusion of the hearing. Breitbart Texas will continue to follow this developing story.
Photo: From @tplohetski post on Twitter.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker