Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was in district court in Fort Worth this morning. Although the meeting was brief, it was his first appearance on three felony securities fraud charges. KUT Austin’s political reporter Ben Philpott, who monitored the proceedings, said two main things happened: Paxton pleaded not guilty and his lead attorney, Joe Kendall, stepped down.
While no one knows Kendall’s reasoning, the state expressed concern on the matter. Because he’s the third lawyer representing Paxton in this case to quit, the state doesn’t want a series of attorneys stepping down as a way to delay the proceedings.
“[They] want this to go to trial as soon as possible and [they] don’t want, ‘Oh, well, we’ve had multiple lawyers’ to be used as an excuse,” Philpott says of the state’s reaction.
Paxton’s demeanor in court was fairly relaxed, most likely on account of him being a lawyer and the attorney general of the state, Philpott says. When the judge asked him who his new lawyer would be, Paxton answered with a shrug, saying he would find out within the week.
“That was kind of an odd moment, that the attorney general doesn’t have a lawyer,” Philpott says.
But whether or not Paxton will be able to do his job while also being tied up in a court case is another question. Philpott says it won’t interfere because of how big the attorney general’s office is.
“There are lots of lawyers that can do whatever needs to be done to keep the state and that office running,” he says. “But what’s really going to affect how well he can perform his job is whether or not he starts getting pressure from other Republicans to step down.”