Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's trial on securities fraud charges was moved Tuesday to Harris County, prompting Paxton to seek a new judge in the case.
Last month, the current judge, George Gallagher, ordered the trial moved out of Collin County, where Paxton resides. Prosecutors had argued Paxton and his allies had tainted the jury pool there.
"Harris County was selected because the lead counsel for the state and the defense are located there," Gallagher said in a statement. "Harris County also has the facilities to accommodate the trial."
Paxton responded to the venue change by expressing a desire for a new judge in the case. His lawyers told Gallagher they do not plan to give their permission — as required under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure — to let Gallagher follow the case to Harris County.
A new trial date has not yet been set. The trial in Collin County had been scheduled for May 1.
The new location is another setback for Paxton’s lawyers, who had argued Gallagher had been misled into ordering the change of venue. Gallagher overruled their objections Tuesday as he sent the trial to Harris County.
Harris County, home to Houston, is the most populous county in Texas. It is also far less Republican than Collin County, where the GOP attorney general has long lived.
If Paxton gets a new judge in Harris County, it would be the third judge involved in the case. Gallagher, who is from Tarrant County, stepped in after Collin County's Chris Oldner recused himself following Paxton's 2015 indictment.
Paxton is accused of misleading investors in a company from before his time as the state’s top lawyer. Paxton, who has pleaded not guilty, could face up to 99 years in prison if convicted.