UPDATE: Judge Richardson will rule on the motion by Perry’s attorneys to disqualify McCrum as special prosecutor next week, probably Wednesday or Thursday.
AUSTIN, Texas — After attending his first pretrial hearing in thecriminal case against him, Texas Governor Rick Perry, accompanied by his defenseattorneys, held a brief press conference Thursday in front ofthe Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in downtown Austin. Perrywas emphatic that his veto that was at the heart of the charges against him wasthe right thing to do, and insisted that the case would not be adistraction.
Perry had threatened to veto the funding for the Public IntegrityUnit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office after Travis CountyDistrict Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving and caughton video being abusive and disrespectful to law enforcement officers. Lehmbergrefused to resign, Perry vetoed the funding, and then earlier this year, agrand jury indicted him for abuse of power.
As Breitbart Texas reported earlier, at issue for this firsthearing were a request by Perry’s defense attorneys to obtain the transcriptsof the grand jury testimony, and their motion to remove Michael McCrum, thespecial prosecutor appointed to the case, for failure to properly file certaindocuments as required by the Texas Constitution.
District Judge Bert Richardson heard arguments from both sides,as well as testimony from several court employees regarding the unique way thatrecords have been kept in this case. One major issue is that the files forPerry’s case were not kept in the same way that court files are normally kept,and Perry’s attorneys have had problems getting records requests filled.Testimony from court employees included admissions that certain files — includingoriginal documents — had been on employees’ desks instead of in a centralfiling location, and that for the past sixteen years, Travis County hadassigned a special cause number for the grand jury proceedings in only twocases: Tom Delay and now Perry. Delay was cleared of all charges against himearlier last month by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, but the case took years to resolve and ended Delay’s political career.
After the hearing, Perry addressed the media, and was adamant — as he has been throughout these proceedings — that he had not violated the law. “As Governor, I took an oath to faithfully uphold the Constitution of Texas, a pledge that I have kept every day,” said Perry. “That same Constitution clearly outlines the authority of any governor to veto items at his or her discretion. I’m here today to restate the lawful constitutional authority for a governor to use his or her veto authority. I stand behind my authority and I would do it again. I stand behind that veto, and I would make that veto again.”
Perry also objected to what he called the “multiple failures to comply with constitutional and statutory requirements” by the special prosecutor, McCrum, but said that he would “go through the process” and follow the requirements of the rule of law. “I’m required by the rule of law to be here today, and I respect that,” said Perry.
A reporter asked if the case would distract from his reported plans to run for President in 2016. Perry declined to address the presidential campaign issue directly, but did say that the case would not distract from his official duties as governor or any other activities, which would presumably include any upcoming campaign. “The question is, am I able to get my work done?” Perry remarked, mentioning recent issues like the border crisis and the Ebola cases in Dallas. “I think we’ve handled those all very well,” said Perry. “We multitask rather well.”
Perry’s lead counsel, Tony Buzbee, then addressed reporters. Buzbee expressed outrage over how many aspects of the case had been handled, including new information that had come out in the hearing about how Perry’s case file was handled. “This has been a comedy of errors from the start, and it’s not funny,” he said. “I think we all saw in the court that Governor Perry along with Tom Delay are being treated a little bit different, and you should be asking those questions…I would remind you, how did the Tom Delay case end?”
“No one should be put through that…whether you like Tom Delay or not,” Buzbee added, saying that it was unjust that it took so many years for Delay to clear his name, but that he was sadly “not surprised” that Perry’s case was encountering similar challenges.
Buzbee also strongly objected to the series of problems that defense counsel had had getting access to court files. “It’s in the constitution, it’s in the statues, there’s a central place you file documents…so everyone knows where to get them,” he said, outlining the multiple unsuccessful attempts they had made to obtain records. Buzbee also noted that documents that were presented into evidence by the prosecution today were not in the files provided to defense counsel in their original requests back in April 2014, or in the updated requests on October 3, 2014.
Breitbart Texas will continue to follow this developing story.
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