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Civil rights lawyer announces bid for Texas attorney general

Civil rights lawyer announces bid for Texas attorney general

A Texas civil rights lawyer announced over the weekend his plan to run to replace state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), saying, “It’s clear he doesn’t want to do his job.”

Lee Merritt, who has represented several families of Black people killed by police officers, declared his intentions to run to become Texas’s next attorney general in a Saturday tweet with a video.

The attorney had floated a campaign for attorney general in comments to a reporter on Friday, saying in the tweeted video that he “accidentally made an announcement yesterday that I was running for Texas attorney general.”

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“I intend to run,” he said. “I just didn’t plan to announce yesterday.”

“Texas deserves an attorney general that will fight for the constitutional rights of all citizens,” he wrote in his tweet.

 

In the video, Merritt said he was concerned about how police treated people who are having mental health crises and was asking whose responsibility it was to ensure law enforcement were safely getting these people to the appropriate clinics.

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“I said that it was Ken Paxton’s responsibility,” he said. “I had been telling Ken Paxton that for a while, but he blocked me. And I said if he didn’t do his job, I would take his job. It’s clear he doesn’t want to do his job, so I decided to go ahead and take it. I’ll announce later.” 

Paxton’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment on Merritt’s announcement.

Merritt made his comments to the reporter while at a protest at the Collin County Courthouse over the in-custody death of Marvin David ScottDavid Albert ScottBiden faces challenge with Democrats on infrastructure package Civil rights lawyer announces bid for Texas attorney general Lawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday' MORE III, whose family he is representing, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The attorney has represented the families of Botham Jean, who was killed in 2018 in his own Dallas apartment by an off-duty officer, and of Atatiana Jefferson, who was fatally shot in 2019 in her home by a Fort Worth officer. 

He also represents the family of Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed last year after he went jogging in rural Georgia.

Merritt also previously represented a woman, whose claims that a state trooper sexually assaulted her were proven wrong with body camera footage, for which he apologized “for any trouble these claims may have caused” the officer and his family, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Paxton has come under criticism in recent years as he faces charges of felony securities fraud and is under FBI investigation for alleged abuse of office and bribery, according to the Dallas newspaper.