These are some recent requests for full merits briefing from the Texas Supreme Court:
In re Marriage of J.B. and H.B., No. 11-0024
I wrote before about the pair of petitions about same-sex divorce in Texas. The Austin case was decided on a procedural ground about whether the AG had properly intervened. The Dallas case reached the core question about whether Texas courts can grant a same-sex divorce, concluding that they cannot. The Dallas case has received this briefing request and appears to be the lead petition on this issue.
Two cases about proving property valuation
Harris County Appraisal District v. Houston Laureate Ltd., No. 11-0078
The Harris County case is about the evidence needed to challenge a residential property valuation. The petition for review asks whether the expert can rely on a computer model that selects other sales to compare, without himself looking at the factors that would affect whether each property is comparable. The petition also includes an issue about whether financial incentives involving the expert constituted a disciplinary-rule violation that also should have barred the evidence.
Lasalle Pipeline, LP v. Donnell Lands, LP, No. 11-0226
The Lasalle Pipeline case is about the overlap of two subjects near to the heart of eminent-domain lawyers — remainder damages and the rule that the landowner can testify as to valuation. Remainder damages compensate for the reduced value of the land not taken — such as if you have lost road access or have fewer commercial options with a smaller parcel. The petition argues that the evidence here was legally insufficient because, although an owner testified about the total damages, he did not break remainder damages into all the components that would have been required of a testifying expert.
When is specific performance available in a typical home purchase?
Villareal v. Esau, No. 11-0048
To get specific performance, the general rule is that the plaintiff has to show his or her own ability to have performed their side of the bargain at the agreed-upon time. This petition comes up in the context of residential real estate, with a buyer who had third-party financing and now wants to force the seller to sell. The seller’s defense, in part, is that the buyer couldn’t have followed through because — at the latest agreed time to close — the seller had not yet cleared the land titles of a stray “wild deed” that was interfering with the buyer’s ability to get financing.