Last updated 10/10/2023 at 10:38am
While not perfect, our system of determining facts for juries is the best in the world. Usually, juries decide what is factually based on what they see or hear. Sometimes, however, juries and courts are influenced by what they do not hear. A good example is that of 61 different courts, all over the United Staes, tossing suits challenging the 2020 election when nothing could be shown to be election altering activities.
In the case of the recent trial of Attorney General Paxton, there were issues which were not heard. Two things left unknown to the Senate was what would have been said by Paxton’s girlfriend and the contractor allegedly paid as part of a bribe. Both were excused from testifying because they would have claimed the Fifth amendment. The Fifth is available to defendants in criminal cases but not necessarily civil cases. In a civil trial, witnesses may be forced to take the stand. They still can refuse to testify based on the Fifth Amendment, but if they do, the jury is entitled to draw any inference from the refusal.
A real judge likely would have required these two to testify but not so with the lieutenant governor playing judge. Surely hearing the guy accused of giving the bribe say that he feared criminal prosecution if he answered would have had some effort on the senators acting as jurors.