- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Republican judge overseeing the criminal case against Gov. Rick Perry is juggling more than abuse-of-power charges against the potential 2016 presidential candidate.

Judge Bert Richardson also keeps up with a regular prison docket in South Texas, presides over high-profile murder cases and in January will join the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals - the state’s highest criminal court - after winning a seat on the nine-member panel in the November elections.

In his spare time, Richardson works as a freelance photographer, shooting sports for a running magazine and capturing moments around his San Antonio home, the Texas Capitol or in the counties he visits for his day job.

Taking pictures provides a focus on something outside the courtroom, he told the San Antonio Express-News in a story published Friday (http://bit.ly/1xkwANq ).

“I can just forget about what I do, and nobody knows who I am when I show up at my other job - and get bossed around by cops and pushed around by photographers, reporters and track officials,” Richardson said.

Richardson’s profile has been raised since he was picked last year to preside over Perry’s case after a Travis County judge recused herself. Perry is accused of trying to leverage his power to force the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg following her conviction on drunken-driving charges.

A grand jury indicted Perry on two felony counts in August. The governor, who will depart office Jan. 20, calls the charges a political witch hunt and has assembled a high-powered team of lawyers that is trying to convince Richardson to dismiss the case.

Despite the spotlight on the Perry indictment, Richardson has his hands full with other notable cases: DNA issues in the death penalty case of convicted El Paso serial killer David Leonard Wood, and a nurse seeking a new trial after getting 60 years in the 2005 shooting death of her husband.

Without talking about the cases specifically, Richardson suggested that he takes his responsibility in other cases as seriously as in the Perry indictment.

“I’ve tried lots of death penalty cases as a prosecutor and as a judge. To me those things are more stressful than this .. It’s a life and death decision,” Richardson said.

Richardson has ruled against efforts to get Perry’s case dismissed on technical objections to the special prosecutor, San Antonio lawyer Michael McCrum, based on issues related to his oath. Richardson was an assistant district attorney in Bexar County before a year in the U.S. attorney’s office, where McCrum was his supervisor.

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Information from: San Antonio Express-News, http://www.mysanantonio.com

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