Fifth Circuit Upholds Governor’s Order Halting Unnecessary Medical Procedures

Staff Report

Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton is the lawyer for the State of Texas and is charged by the Texas Constitution to:

  • defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas
  • represent the State in litigation
  • approve public bond issues

To fulfill these responsibilities, the Office of the Attorney General serves as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of state government, issues legal opinions when requested by the Governor, heads of state agencies and other officials and agencies as provided by Texas statutes.

The Texas AG sits as an ex-officio member of state committees and commissions and defends challenges to state laws and suits against both state agencies and individual employees of the State.

Many Texans look to the Office of the Attorney General for guidance with disputes and legal issues.

The agency receives hundreds of letters, phone calls and visits each week about crime victims’ compensation, child support, abuse in nursing homes, possible consumer fraud and other topics.

To find out more about the Texas Attorney General, visit the official website at https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/.

AG Paxton Files Intervention to Prevent the Release of Over 4,000 Dangerous Individuals in Harris County

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed an intervention to prevent the release of thousands of felony arrestees on personal recognizance bonds, which would allow dangerous criminals to roam freely and commit more crimes during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Just over a week ago, a Harris County judge released a murder suspect on bond because the suspect claimed he feared contracting COVID-19 in jail.

Now Harris County is working with prisoner plaintiffs in a federal case to intentionally release thousands of more suspects on personal recognizance bonds.

Harris County refuses to defend its citizens against the proposed mass, the unmonitored release of felons, making state intervention necessary to protect Texans from this potential threat.

“Protecting Texans is one of my highest priorities. It is vital that we maintain the integrity of our criminal justice system and continue to enforce state law during this pandemic,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The release of thousands of arrestees justly held for felony crimes would directly endanger the public, and my office will not stand for any action that threatens the health and safety of law-abiding citizens.”

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure dictates that only the Court, before whom a defendant’s criminal case is pending, may release a defendant facing various serious felonies on personal bonds, and mandatory bond conditions must be imposed for certain crimes.

There is no indication that the Court can ensure all mandatory conditions are met and enforced to protect the public from dangerous criminals.

AG Paxton Applauds Fifth Circuit Decision Temporarily Upholding Governor’s Order Halting Unnecessary Medical Procedures

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today applauded the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for temporarily stopping a lower court’s decision yesterday that allowed abortion facilities alone to continue using up precious medical supplies in the midst of a pandemic.

Last week, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order (GA 09), which requires all health care facilities and professionals to postpone any unnecessary medical procedures to preserve desperately needed medical supplies for the health professionals combating the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Fifth Circuit’s temporary stay order today allows enforcement of the Governor’s Executive Order while the court continues to consider the State’s appeal.

“I thank the court for their immediate and careful attention to the health and safety needs of Texans suffering from the spread of COVID-19. The temporary stay ordered this afternoon justly prioritizes supplies and personal protective equipment for the medical professionals in need,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The Governor’s Order temporarily halting unnecessary medical procedures, including abortion, applies to all health care facilities and professionals equally as Texans come together to combat this medical crisis.”

The Governor’s Executive Order applies to all health care facilities and professionals in Texas to ensure that hospitals and medical personnel have access to as much personal protective equipment and hospital beds as possible during the national health crisis.

AG Paxton: Local Governments Must Allow the Sale of Firearms

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued a legal opinion following a request from Representative Dustin Burrows regarding the sales of firearms in Texas municipalities and counties. The opinion concludes that municipal and county authorities may not use emergency powers to regulate or restrict the sale of firearms.

“State law provides several emergency powers to local governments to control movement within their region during a disaster, which serves our communities well during public health events like the one we’re fighting now. However, local regulation of the sale, possession, and ownership of firearms is specifically prohibited under Texas law,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Under our laws, every Texan retains their right to purchase and possess firearms.”

Under the Texas Local Government Code, municipal governments possess the limited authority to regulate the use of firearms during a disaster; however, that authority does not extend to the regulation of transfer, possession, ownership or sale of firearms.

AG Paxton Files Lawsuit to Halt Price Gouging at Auctions Unlimited LLC

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a lawsuit to stop Auctions Unlimited LLC from price gouging Texans for necessary, health-related supplies.

Following Governor Abbott’s disaster declaration, Auctions Unlimited listed an auction on its website for “over 750,000 face masks,” and that listing included face masks, N95 particulate respirators, hand soap, all-purpose cleaner, and disinfectant wipes.

On March 24, bidding on N95 respirator masks pushed listings as high as $180 for a package of just 16 masks. Auctions Unlimited owner Tim Worstell admitted to receiving warnings from both local police and the Texas Attorney General; however, he moved forward with the exorbitantly priced auctions.

“The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act expressly prohibits anyone from selling necessary items at an excessive price when a disaster is declared and, despite repeated warnings from law enforcement, that is exactly what we’ve seen Auctions Unlimited do,” said Attorney General Paxton. “My office will not tolerate anyone taking advantage of Texans in need and profiting from this health crisis.”

Currently, the disaster declaration prompted by several discovered cases of Coronavirus in Texas is effective across the entire state. Price gouging is illegal, and a disaster declaration triggers tough penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Price-gougers may be required to reimburse consumers and may be held liable for civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation with an additional penalty of up to $250,000 if the affected consumers are elderly.

Notification of Opinion

Official Request RQ-0341-KP
Whether section 229.001 of the Local Government Code prohibits municipal or county officials from restricting the sale of firearms through an emergency declaration

Official Opinion KP-0296
Municipal and county officials may not regulate or restrict the sale of firearms in a local disaster area.

Notification of Opinion

Official Opinion RQ-0311-KP
Authority of Optometry Board under section 351.005 of the Occupations Code over activities of licensed optometrists employed by physicians and retailers of ophthalmic goods leasing space to physicians

Official Opinion KP-0297
Occupations Code section 351.005 provides that the Texas Optometry Board is prohibited from interfering with certain rights of a licensed physician.

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