AUSTIN, Texas — Attorneys for indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked Monday that the Republican be allowed to skip his next court appearance because he'll be out the country — and that he not be forced to attend subsequent pretrial hearings where no evidence is presented.
In a five-page motion, Perry's defense team asked a judge to excuse the governor from a hearing scheduled for Oct. 13 due to "long-standing plans to be in Europe" for an Oct. 12-19 tour to encourage foreign investment in Texas.
It added, "The governor's presence in court — along with his security detail — will involve a not insubstantial disruption of the normal operating functions" of the courthouse in Travis County, which includes Austin.
The motion said that if Perry is compelled to appear, the hearing should be delayed until at least until Oct. 20.
An Austin grand jury indicted Perry last month on two felony counts of abuse of power for threatening to veto state funding for a public corruption investigative unit. The governor issued the 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 was in New Hampshire and didn't appear at the case's only other court date on Aug. 22. That's when Texas District Judge Bert Richardson, Perry defense attorney David Botsford and the special prosecutor leading the case against the governor, Michael McCrum, met in the judge's chambers to discuss scheduling.
Monday's motion said Botsford met last week with McCrum, who said he believed Perry should be required to appear Oct. 13 and at all subsequent non-evidentiary hearings. Perry's attorneys counter that, "It's certainly not unusual for a judge to waive a defendant's presence at a non-evidentiary pretrial hearing."
"In 37 years of practicing criminal defense, Mr. Botsford has never encountered a prosecutor who opposed such a request, in state or federal court," their motion said.
McCrum did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Monday.
Perry isn't up for re-election in November but hasn't ruled out a second White House run in 2016. He's traveled frequently to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which kickoff presidential voting, and has also bolstered his foreign policy credentials with recent trips overseas.
Associated Press Writer Jim Vertuno contributed to this report.
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