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Appeals Court Tosses 1 of 2 Indictments Against Rick Perry

The GOP presidential candidate got what's potentially a huge legal victory in the face of flagging polling numbers for the 2016 race.
Image: Republican Presidential Candidates Address 2015 Family Leadership Summit
AMES, IA - JULY 18: Republican presidential candidate and former Texas Governor Rick Perry fields questions at The Family Leadership Summit at Stephens Auditorium on July 18, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. According to the organizers the purpose of The Family Leadership Summit is to inspire, motivate, and educate conservatives. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)Scott Olson / Getty Images

A Texas appeals court has dismissed one of two criminal charges against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry in an abuse-of-power case.

The court tossed out a charge related to "coercion of a public servant," arguing that the underlying statute violated Perry's first amendment rights.

"The statute on which the “coercion of a public servant” is based, as written, and as we are bound to construe it, violates the First Amendment and, accordingly, cannot be enforced," the court wrote.

Perry still faces one count regarding "Abuse of Official Capacity"

The case stems from Perry's 2013 threat and then decision to veto funding to the Travis County Public Integrity Unit unless a district attorney convicted of drunk driving resigned. When the district attorney didn't back down, he followed through with the veto.

Perry's chief counsel, Tony Buzbee, called the move "a clear step towards victory for the rule of law."

"The only remaining count we believe to be a misdemeanor, and the only issue is whether the governor’s veto – or any veto in the absence of bribery – can ever be illegal," he said. "The appeals court made clear that this case was questionable. The remaining charge is hanging by a thread, and we are confident that once it is put before the court, it will be dismissed on its face."

Perry is seeking the Republican nomination for president. He left the governor's office in January.