Ken Paxton Gets A New Judge In His Securities Fraud Case

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJune 14, 2017 1:01 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A new judge has been assigned to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s felony securities fraud case.

Harris County District Judge Robert Johnson was randomly assigned the case Tuesday. Harris, a Democrat, coincidentally defeated Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s son to win his seat on the bench.

Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey says even though Johnson is a Democrat, that’s not necessarily bad news for Paxton, a Republican.

“The people who complain about judges running as members of parties are usually judges,” Ramsey says. “They don’t think that should play into their reading of the law. A lot of them don’t think it does play into their reading of the law.”

The previous judge in the case, state District Judge George Gallagher, had ruled that prosecutors couldn’t get a fair trial in Paxton’s hometown near Dallas, which led him to move the case to Houston.

Paxton’s attorneys then successfully had Gallagher removed, arguing he lacked authority to preside over cases outside his home county.

A white Harris County Sheriff’s deputy and her husband were arraigned Tuesday for the murder of a Hispanic man.

John Hernandez died May 31 from chest compression and strangulation three days after an altercation with Terry and Chauna Thompson outside of a Denny’s.

Cell phone video showed Terry Thompson pinning Hernandez to the ground and keeping him in a chokehold while Chauna held down his arm.

Houston Public Media’s Al Ortiz has more on yesterday’s proceedings:

The courtroom was totally packed as Judge Kelli Johnson read the charges to Terry and Chauna Thompson.

The judge set the conditions of the bail bonds, which include taking drug tests and forbids access to firearms.

“The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to seeking justice in the death of John Hernandez,” David Mitcham, who leads the Trial Bureau for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, told media after the hearing.

Terry Thompson’s defense lawyer Scot Courtney says the couple feels threatened because of the multiple protests about this case.

Courtney contends that Hernandez was the initial aggressor, so he’s not ruling out using a self-defense strategy.

“I haven’t seen all the evidence, but yes. Whenever somebody has force used against him, they are then authorized to use force in defense of themselves or others,” he says.

The Thompsons’ next court hearing will take place July 14.

Texas parents will soon be able to see how their children answered individual questions on state standardized tests.

The Texas Education Agency says parents can access their kids’ answers to STAAR exams through an online portal starting June 30.

According to the agency, Texas is one of the first states to offer the tool.