Judge dismisses disciplinary case against Texas AG's deputy

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DALLAS (AP) — A Texas judge has thrown out a lawsuit that the state bar brought seeking to discipline the top deputy to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton over the Republican's failed effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud. A similar case against Paxton remains pending in another court.

Judge John Youngblood dismissed the case against First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster with prejudice last week, ruling that his court lacks jurisdiction over the petition brought by State Bar of Texas under the “separation of powers doctrine."

The ruling is a partial victory for Paxton as he seeks a third term as Texas' top lawyer against Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza.

“I am glad that the court dismissed these utterly meritless charges against my first assistant and sent the clear message that I work for Texas, not for unelected bureaucrats at the State Bar,” Paxton said in a Tuesday statement.

The bar last year began investigating complaints over Paxton’s lawsuit that sought to block President Joe Biden’s election victory. In May, it asked separate courts to impose unspecified discipline on Paxton and Webster, alleging that their petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse Donald Trump's defeat was “dishonest.”

The high court threw out the 2020 case and Trump’s own Justice Department found no evidence of fraud that could have changed the election’s outcome.

A spokesman for the bar, which is an arm of the Texas Supreme Court, declined to comment or say whether it will appeal.

Youngblood, a Milam County Republican, appears to have accepted the argument from the attorney general's office that because it is an executive branch agency and the bar is part of the judicial branch, the case against Webster ran afoul of the state constitution. It remains to be seen whether the same argument will be persuasive to the Dallas-area judge hearing the case against Paxton.