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Rick Perry's lawyer seeks dismissal of corruption charges

By JC Sevcik Follow @JCSevcik Contact the Author   |   Aug. 22, 2014 at 5:24 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Lawyers for Rick Perry announced plans to seek the dismissal of criminal corruption charges filed against the Texas governor one week ago.

The longest-serving governor of Texas and the first to be indicted in nearly a century, Perry faces two felony charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant after he publicly threatened to veto $7.5 million in funding to the state public integrity unit -- an agency of public corruption prosecutors that investigates wrongdoing by elected officials -- in order to force the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg after she was arrested on drunk driving charges.

Perry followed through on the threat when Lehmberg refused to resign and was subsequently indicted and arraigned on criminal corruption charges.

David Botsford, one of Perry's attorneys, said the motion to dismiss would address "the constitutionality of the prosecution of both counts of the indictment," specifically, "governor's veto power, separation of powers, the Texas Constitution, First Amendment rights and the Speech and Debate Clause."

"The motion will speak for itself," Botsford added, declining to take further questions from reporters.

Michael McCrum, special prosecutor in the case, called the indictment legally sound and promised to oppose the motion to dismiss.

"I'm confident that the law applies in this case, that the facts will bear out as sufficient to sustain a prosecution in this case," he said.

"I anticipate that Mr. Perry will never plead guilty," he said. "So because of that, I anticipate it will go to trial," noting that it could be next year before a trial commences.

Mr. McCrum plans to review the defense's motion and prepare a written response but "if the court calls for a hearing, I will appear in court and argue on behalf of the people of the State of Texas."

"At this time, I feel confident of the charges, I feel confident of the facts as applied to the law and I will move forward," he added.

Though his efforts to oust Lehmberg, a Democrat, have caused some to accuse him of the same motivations, Perry has called the allegations against him a "farce," claiming they are political.

"They are flat wrong on accusations of a political witch hunt," McCrum told the Chicago Tribune Thursday. "These accusations of political motivation are ridiculous and without any factual basis."

"The evidence supports the criminal charges filed against Mr. Perry," McCrum added.

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