Opening arguments in the Marc Rosenthal trial

Opening arguments have started in the "cash for court favors" trial for attorney Marc Rosenthal.

The Austin-based attorney is accused of taking a lead role in a racketeering and corruption case involving former 404th State District Judge Abel Limas.

The trial is being heard before a jury of nine women and five men is hearing testimony at the federal courthouse in Corpus Christi.

U.S District Court Judge Andrew Hanen granted Rosnethal's request for a change of venue based on wide publicity surrounding the case.

Lead prosecutor Michael Wynne started opening arguments at 9:35 a.m. Monday alleging that Rosenthal "called the shots" in the conspiracy while others executed it.

Wynne told jurors that Rosenthal would target Union-Pacific Railroad and other companies with "deep pockets" and threaten them with bad publicity in order to make them commit to large cash settlements.

"He had to control every twist and turn," Wynne said. "He got more and more brazen as time went on."

Both Limas and former Texas State Rep. Jim Solis are expected to testify in Rosenthal's trial.

But defense attorneys counter that both of them plead guilty and cut deals to get a lesser sentence.

"Judge Limas was corrupt," said defense attorney Paul Kratzig said in his opening arguments. "He was corrupt to the core."

Kratzig claims that Limas lied to FBI agents on multiple occasions when they were investigating the corruption case.

The Corpus Christi-based defense attorney claims Limas plead guilty and took a deal to prevent his wife and son from being prosecuted.

"Like lots of good liars, he mixed lies with the truth," Kratzig said of Limas.

Defense attorney Ernesto Gamez said in his opening arguments that Rosenthal was an "outsider" who tried to find "insiders" within the Cameron County justice system.

"Marc hires people who he believes are respectable," Gamez said.