Elections 2020JudicialStatewide NewsJudge Dismisses Texas State Bar Suit Against First Assistant Attorney General

The judge ruled that levying punishment against Webster would violate the separation of powers doctrine.
September 20, 2022
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A lawsuit brought against the First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline, an arm of the State Bar of Texas, was dismissed on Tuesday.

Webster was sued over his assistance in the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) 2020 legal challenge against several presidential battleground states that changed election procedure without legislative approval — something many states, including Texas, did that year.

The lawsuit alleged professional misconduct over pleadings made by Webster in that case. The commission asked the court to approve a “judgment of professional misconduct” against Webster, which can be punished by public or private reprimand, the suspension of a license, or even result in disbarment.

Specifically, the complaint pointed to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, stating, “[T]he Rules prohibit pleading to a court frivolous claims of law or fact and making false, dishonest, deceptive or misleading statements. Mr. Paxton’s Supreme Court Complaint violated these prohibitions.”

In deciding to dismiss the lawsuit, Judge John Youngblood wrote to respective counsels, “I find the separation of powers doctrine deprives this court of subject-matter jurisdiction.”

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“To find in the Commission’s favor would stand for a limitation of the Attorney General’s broad power to file lawsuits on the State’s behalf, a right clearly supported by the Texas Constitution and recognized repeatedly by Texas Supreme Court precedent.”

The judge’s order was signed on September 13 but wasn’t announced by the OAG until Tuesday.

Webster told The Texan, “I’m thankful to the court for holding the State Bar accountable for filing a case that violated the Texas Constitution.”

“The State Bar’s politicization is an insult to all Texans who oppose the abuse of governmental power in pursuit of liberal political retribution,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.

“No matter how much the partisan activists at the Texas State Bar retaliate against me and my staff for working to promote election integrity, secure our southern border, and fight for conservative values, I will not back down. 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 and the state bar are in an elongated quarrel, with lawsuits and rhetorical slights shot across the bows. The commission also investigated Paxton over the same allegation of misconduct, which Paxton called a “months-long witch hunt” from “a liberal activist group masquerading as a neutral professional association.”

In May, the attorney general accused another arm of the Texas State Bar, the Texas Bar Foundation, of unlawfully using charitable funds to “aid and abet the mass influx of illegal aliens.”

The Texas State Bar declined to comment and said no decision has yet been made on a potential appeal.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.