Ken Paxton Securities Fraud Trial Finds New Home In Harris County

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 12, 2017 11:01 am

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

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s trial on securities fraud charges is headed to Harris County. It was originally set to take place in Collin County – where Paxton has lived for a long time. But last month, the judge in the case said the trial should be moved after prosecutors argued the Attorney General and his supporters polluted the jury pool.

Paxton was indicted in 2015 – after he was elected Attorney General – on charges that he recruited investors in a tech start-up without disclosing the company paid him.

Paxton has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He could face up to 99 years in prison if convicted. Paxton asked for a new judge in his trial after it was moved to Harris County.

Members of the Texas House heard testimony Tuesday on a public safety bill named for Sandra Bland. The 28-year-old black woman was arrested during a traffic stop in Prairie View in 2015. She was found dead in a Waller County jail cell three days later – and it was ruled a suicide.

Her death fueled a national discussion around racial profiling and police tactics. House Democrat Garnet Coleman filed the Sandra Bland Act which he says would help prevent unnecessary deaths like hers.

“I think this is the best time for us to make progress in a way that it’s not punitive to those who protect us out there,” he says. “But also make sure that everybody knows what their rights are.”

The bill would do things like increase officer training for de-escalation tactics and mental health awareness. Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, urged lawmakers to support the legislation:

“And I will say to you we will not shut up. We will not stop talking. We will keep showing up until changes are made to say ‘we’re not taking this and we stand together.’ So I don’t want you to just tell me you stand with me. I don’t want you to go behind a door and say you stand with me,” he said. “I want you to prove to the world just as my daughter’s death was nationally televised that you stand with my family.”

The bill was left pending in the House Homeland Security and Public Safety committee.

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he was providing $500,000 worth of grant money to combat gang activity in Harris County. But for some local officials, this announcement was a surprise. Houston Public Media’s Eddie Robinson has more:

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, along with local law enforcement, were not included in Governor Greg Abbott’s crime initiative. The goal is to eliminate gang violence in Houston.

Emmett said he heard about it on the news.

“So hopefully, there’ll be some communication after the fact, and the sheriff and HPD, and DPS can all work together.”  

Abbott plans to deploy additional Texas Rangers and DPS special agents to support local law enforcement.

The Governor’s Office says Harris County has more gangs and gang members than any other Texas counties.