Today, July 31, Ken Paxton's legal team in the Paxton impeachment filed a motion with the Texas Senate urging it to dismiss all but one of the 20 impeachment articles based on the "prior-term-doctrine" codified in Texas Government Code 665.081.
The motion detailed how 19 of these charges were public knowledge before the most recent election and pointed to precedent that always and clearly states that the doctrine applies to actions before the most recent election.
Most significantly, the motion pointed to three prior Texas Senate impeachment / removal actions where the doctrine was applied by the Texas Senate:
1887 - Judge Frank Willis - acquitted
1893 - Land Commissioner W.L. McGaughey - motion to dismiss based on the doctrine sustained, with 10 Senators signing a letter saying that they agreed with and applied the doctrine.
1931 - Judge J.B. Price - motion to dismiss based on the doctrine sustained
And the motion walks through all the times the Texas Supreme Court has applied the doctrine when it hears impeachment cases (constitutional and statutory alike).
This is powerful stuff!
The motion also stated that they will be filing another motion to dismiss the remaining charge that seeks to remove Paxton because the Office of Attorney General (not Paxton) sought funding for a settlement in a lawsuit by fired employees.
The motion itself is linked from the linked Texas Scorecard article.
I especially like the repeated emphasis in the motion about and quotes from precedents about the rationale for the "prior-term doctrine," which I think can be more properly described as the "voter sovereignty doctrine," on respecting the will of the people.
Article I, Section 2 of the Texas Constitution which is carved in stone on the Zavala Library in the Texas Capitol Complex, says:
"All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, an institute for their benefit."
The attorneys for Paxton open their motion with:
"Impeachment invokes the Legislature's awesome power to override the will of the people."
And here are two quotes from the precedents:
In the 1887 Senate trial, the impeached Judge Willis' counsel successfully argued that "[T]hese people (his peers), the sovereigns of his district, with full knowledge of the same, have passed upon said charges at the polls . . ."
The Texas Supreme Court said in 1975, "the public" is the "ultimate judge and jury in a democratic society."