Austin's NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

In Court Filing, Perry Lawyers Challenge Indictment

14971327231_09d5223ca7_o.jpg
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
/

Lawyers for Gov. Rick Perry challenged his indictment in legal filings Monday, calling the charges unconstitutional and asking the courts to throw them out.

Perry was indicted this month, accused of coercing a public servant and abusing his official capacity of governor when he threatened to veto $7.5 million in state funds to the public corruption unit of the Travis County District Attorney's office if District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to step down after her April 2013 drunken driving arrest.

“Continued prosecution of Governor Perry on the current indictment is unprecedented, insupportable and simply impermissible,” the attorneys wrote in their brief. “This court should not hesitate to dismiss both counts of the indictment and bar the prosecution, immediately if not sooner.”

In the brief signed by David Botsford, one of a half-dozen lawyers hired by the governor, Perry’s team contends the indictments violate constitutional provisions for the separation of powers and protecting free speech, and the brief said that the charges are vague, overbroad and improperly applied.

The governor’s defense team promised a challenge last week; the court said at that time that the prosecutor will have a week to respond.

Ross Ramsey is managing editor of The Texas Tribune and continues as editor of Texas Weekly, the premier newsletter on government and politics in the Lone Star State, a role he's had since September 1998. Texas Weekly was a print-only journal when he took the reins in 1998; he switched it to a subscription-based, internet-only journal by the end of 2004 without a significant loss in subscribers. As Texas Weekly's primary writer for 11 years, he turned out roughly 2 million words in more than 500 editions, added an online library of resources and documents and items of interest to insiders, and a daily news clipping service that links to stories from papers across Texas. Before joining Texas Weekly in September 1998, Ramsey was associate deputy comptroller for policy with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, also working as the agency's director of communications. Prior to that 28-month stint in government, Ramsey spent 17 years in journalism, reporting for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as the paper's Austin bureau chief. Prior to that, as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, he wrote for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ramsey got his start in journalism in broadcasting, working for almost seven years covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.