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Texas court dismisses charges against former governor

[JURIST] The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals [official website] on Wednesday dismissed [opinion, PDF] the last charge in a criminal case against former governor Rick Perry [A&E profile]. The charge for abuse of official capacity under Texas Penal Code Sec. 39.02 [text] was initiated when Perry threatened to and eventually vetoed funding for the Public Integrity Unit for the Travis County District Attorney's Office. The charge was dismissed over concern for separation of powers under the Texas Constitution and the constitutionality of the statute under the First Amendment. The court held it could not rule to restrict the governor's power of veto.

In July a Texas appeals court [official website] dismissed one of two criminal charges [JURIST report] filed against Perry last year. The court stated that the coercion of a public servant [Texas Penal Code Chapter 36] charge Perry had faced infringed upon his constitutional right to freedom of speech. In January of last year a Texas state judge refused to dismiss [JURIST report] criminal charges against Perry. A Travis county grand jury indicted [JURIST report] Perry on two felony charges for abuse of power in August 2014. Perry pleaded [JURIST report] not guilty to the charges. Perry was also a controversial figure while in office. In July 2013 he signed into law [JURIST report] House Bill 2 [text], which enacted three new restrictions on the practice of abortion. Also in 2013 Perry vetoed[JURIST report] a bill [HB 950 text] intended to prevent payment discrimination and make it easier for women to obtain equal pay.

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