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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could be punished for suing to overturn 2020 election, court says

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas appeals court has ruled against the Republican attorney general Ken Paxton could face discipline from the state Bar Association over his failed attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

A State Bar of Texas disciplinary committee accused Paxton in 2022 of making false claims of fraud in a lawsuit that raised questions President Joe Biden‘s victory. On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 5th District Court of Appeals said Paxton could be sanctioned by the commission because the lawsuit seeks to punish him in his personal capacity as a lawyer and not as a public servant.

“The focus of the Commission’s allegations is squarely on Paxton’s alleged misconduct – not that of the State,” Judge Erin Nowell, an elected Democrat, wrote in the 2-1 opinion.

The only Republican on the panel, Judge Emily Miskel, disagreed.

A similar lawsuit was also filed against one of Paxton’s top deputies. Earlier this week, a coalition of Republican attorneys general urged the Texas Supreme Court to reject efforts by the bar to impose discipline. All nine members of the state’s highest civil court are Republicans.

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“As in that case, we will appeal this ruling and are confident that the Texas Supreme Court will not allow false State Bar claims and partisan political vendetta to erode the state attorneys’ professional licensure ” said Paxton spokeswoman Paige Willey. a statement.

A spokeswoman for the State Bar of Texas and the committee that charged Paxton declined to comment on the ruling.

Paxton is among the highest-profile lawyers facing sanctions for helping efforts led by former President Donald Trump to cast doubt on Trump’s defeat.

The state bar disciplinary group’s penalties against an attorney can range from a written admonition to a disbarment or disbarment. The disciplinary process is similar to a trial and may involve both parties soliciting testimony and obtaining documents through discovery.

Paxton is not required to have membership in the bar to serve as attorney general.

State bar officials began investigating complaints about Paxton’s election case in 2021. A similar disciplinary proceeding was initiated by the group against Paxton’s top deputy. That case is awaiting a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court.

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