AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry was excused from his next court appearance because of a previously planned state economic mission to Europe, but the judge on Friday denied the Republican’s request for blanket permission to skip all other pretrial hearings.
Texas District Judge Bert Richardson said Perry’s presence at an Oct. 13 status hearing “is not expressly required.” He added that Perry is “not precluded from” seeking permission to miss individual upcoming, yet-to-be-scheduled appearances, but turned down his request to miss all future court dates where no evidence is to be presented.
Richardson’s ruling came despite the objections of the special prosecutor leading the case against Perry, San Antonio-based attorney Michael McCrum, who has complained publicly about the governor seeking “special favors” from the court and even suggested he’d made a “mockery” of the legal system since being indicted last month.
McCrum wrote earlier this week that Perry’s defense attorneys have mistakenly argued that it is “common for defendants to be permitted to not appear at all ‘non-evidentiary’ pretrial hearings,” which McCrum said is not the case in Travis County, where the case is being tried.
“From carpenters to lawyers to judges accused of anything from tickets to federal felonies, all are expected to appear in court,” he wrote.
An Austin grand jury indicted Perry on Aug. 15 on two felony counts of abuse of power for threatening to veto state funding for a public corruption investigative unit. The governor made good on his promised veto after the Democratic district attorney who oversees the unit refused to resign following her drunken driving conviction - drawing an ethics complaint against Perry from a left-leaning watchdog group.
Perry was booked and had a mug shot taken in Austin, but didn’t appear at the case’s only other court date, an Aug. 22 scheduling hearing.
Perry’s attorneys mentioned the governor’s “long-standing plans” to be in Europe when asking that he skip the Oct. 13 hearing, as well as saying Perry’s presence and security detail “will involve a not insubstantial disruption of the normal operating functions” of the Travis County courthouse.
The longest-serving governor in Texas history, Perry isn’t seeking re-election in November but is mulling a second White House run in 2016.
Many top Republicans nationwide have lined up to support Perry since his indictment, and the governor has maintained a full travel schedule that has taken him to the early presidential voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as well as overseas.
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