Former judge declines to serve as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s adviser for Ken Paxton impeachment trial

Former judge declines to serve as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s adviser for Ken Paxton impeachment trial

Marc Brown in court in 2012, when he was a state district judge in Harris County. Brown on Saturday declined to serve as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s counsel during next month’s impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton, explaining that he donated to the campaign of Paxton’s GOP primary opponent in 2021. Credit: Dave Rossman for the Houston Chronicle© Provided by The Texas Tribune

Former judge declines to serve as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s adviser for Ken Paxton impeachment trial

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A former state appeals court judge on Saturday turned down an appointment to serve as an adviser to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick during the upcoming impeachment trial of indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Just a day earlier, Patrick had named Marc Brown, a former Republican justice on the 14th Court of Appeals from Harris County, to be his counsel during the trial scheduled to begin Sept. 5.

Brown’s announcement that he would not participate came suddenly after The Texas Tribune reached out about a campaign donation he made in 2021 to a Paxton political opponent.

In a letter Saturday to Patrick declining the appointment, Brown cited the $250 contribution that he and his wife made in 2021 to the campaign of Eva Guzman, a former state Supreme Court justice who tried to unseat Paxton in the Republican primary. Brown said he had not actively campaigned for any candidate since becoming a district judge in 2010.

Former judge declines to serve as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s adviser for Ken Paxton impeachment trial

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“I did not recall that during our meetings with your staff,” Brown wrote about the contribution. “I have full confidence in my ability to fairly offer legal advice in this matter. However, the proceedings commencing on Sept. 5, 2023 are far too important to the State of Texas for there to be any distractions involving allegations of favoritism or personal bias on my part.”

Patrick said Friday he had picked Brown “after several months of searching.”

Trial rules grant Patrick — who as the leader of the Senate serves as the impeachment trial’s presiding officer — the option of selecting his own legal counsel.

“I was looking for a candidate with real-life courtroom experience as a lawyer and a judge who would serve as counsel and work side-by-side with me through this process,” Patrick said in a statement. “Justice Brown meets these criteria with his years of front-line experience as a courtroom lawyer and trial court judge and also brings a well-rounded perspective from his experience as a former appellate justice.”

The House impeached Paxton in May, alleging a yearslong pattern of misconduct and lawbreaking. He was immediately suspended from office on a temporary basis, and the trial will determine whether he will be permanently removed.

Paxton faces 20 articles of impeachment that accuse him of bribery and abusing his office.

The trial rules, which the Senate approved in June, say that the presiding officer “may select legal counsel licensed in the State of Texas who is not a registered lobbyist in this State.”

Brown served as a district court judge in Harris County, then won a seat on the 14th Court of Appeals, where he served from 2013 to 2019. He lost reelection in 2018, one of many GOP judges in the Houston area unseated as Democrat Beto O’Rourke came close to unseating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

The full program is now LIVE for the 2023 Texas Tribune Festival, happening Sept. 21-23 in Austin. Explore the program featuring more than 100 unforgettable conversations coming to TribFest. Panel topics include the biggest 2024 races and what’s ahead, how big cities in Texas and around the country are changing, the integrity of upcoming elections and so much more. 

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