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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick picks former Houston judge as adviser during Ken Paxton impeachment trial

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick picks former Houston judge as adviser during Ken Paxton impeachment trial” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Friday named Marc Brown, a former state appeals court judge, to be his counsel for the upcoming impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Brown is a former Republican justice on the 14th Court of Appeals from Harris County. He previously was a state district court judge in the county.

Patrick serves as the presiding officer of the trial — effectively the judge — and trial rules give him the option of selecting his own legal counsel. Patrick said Friday he tapped Brown “after several months of searching.”

Marc Brown, a Republican candidate for the 14th Court of Appeals is shown Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in Houston.
Marc Brown, a former state appeals court judge, will be Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s counsel for the upcoming impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton. Credit: Courtesy of Houston Chronicle/Melissa Phillip

“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 trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 5. 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.

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.”

“Legal counsel for the presiding officer may consult on matters related to all rulings, orders, mandates, writs, questions of evidence, and processes authorized by the rules of the court of impeachment,” the rules say, adding that any counsel “must be knowledgeable about the Texas Rules of Evidence.”

Brown’s appointment comes at a critical juncture for Patrick. Tuesday was the deadline for the two sides in the trial to respond to pretrial motions, opening a new chapter of the process in which a special committee will review the filings and make recommendations to Patrick about how he should rule on the motions.

Patrick can rule unilaterally on any motion except for those that seek to dismiss articles of impeachment. Those motions have to be put to a vote of senators.

Brown served on the 14th Court of Appeals from 2013-2019. He narrowly 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.

Brown previously was a prosecutor and criminal district court judge.

Brown’s LinkedIn profile says he’s been “semi retired” since leaving the appeals court, serving as a visiting judge and working as an arbitrator in the health insurance industry.

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