Former judge declines to advise Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Ken Paxton impeachment trial

On August 19, 2023, Marc Brown, a former state appeals court judge from Texas, declined an appointment to serve as an adviser to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick during the upcoming impeachment trial of indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton. This came just a day after Patrick had named Brown as his counsel for the trial, which is set to begin on September 5. The rules of the trial grant Patrick the option to choose his own legal counsel, as he serves as the presiding officer.

In a letter addressed to Patrick, Brown cited a $250 campaign contribution that he and his wife made in 2021 to Eva Guzman, a former state Supreme Court justice who had run against Paxton in the Republican primary. Brown clarified that he had not actively campaigned for any candidate since he became a district judge in 2010. He expressed concern about possible allegations of favoritism or personal bias that could arise during the impeachment trial, viewing it as too important for the State of Texas to be marred by distractions.

Patrick, on the other hand, had chosen Brown after an extensive search lasting several months. According to the lieutenant governor, he was seeking a candidate with practical courtroom experience as both a lawyer and a judge. Patrick highlighted Brown’s qualifications, including his years of front-line experience in the legal field and his perspective gained from serving as a former appellate justice.

The impeachment of Paxton by the House took place in May, with allegations of misconduct and lawbreaking spanning several years. He was promptly suspended from office on a temporary basis, and the trial will determine whether he will be permanently removed. Paxton is facing 20 articles of impeachment that involve accusations of bribery and abuse of his office.

The Senate, having approved the trial rules in June, stated that the presiding officer has the authority to select legal counsel licensed in the State of Texas, provided they are not registered lobbyists in the state. Brown, who had previously served as a district court judge in Harris County, then as a justice on the 14th Court of Appeals from 2013 to 2019, lost his bid for re-election in 2018, coinciding with the defeat of several GOP judges in the Houston area as Democrat Beto O’Rourke nearly unseated U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

In summary, Marc Brown declined the appointment as an adviser to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for the impeachment trial of Ken Paxton. Brown’s decision was influenced by a campaign contribution made to Paxton’s primary opponent in 2021, which he had failed to recall during his discussions with Patrick’s staff. This development highlights the importance of ensuring a fair and unbiased trial process for the sake of the State of Texas.

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