Supreme Court of Texas Blog: Legal Issues Before the Texas Supreme Court
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Category: 'News and Links'

State of the Texas Judiciary 2015

February 20th, 2015 · Comments Off on State of the Texas Judiciary 2015

On Wednesday, Chief Justice Hecht delivered his first “State of the Judiciary” address to the Texas Legislature. The State Bar has a page on storify collecting some photos and tweets.

I wasn’t able to live tweet this year, or even to watch live. But I’ve had a chance to watch the video and wanted to pass along the highlights.

Statutory interpretation

The speech began with a subject of occasional tension between the branches: statutory interpretation. (The debate about the role of “text” versus “legislative intent” is a long one, and one that understandably looks different to the legislator whose unspoken intent may not be reflected well in the text.)

Read more…

Tags: News and Links

Texas Supreme Court issues temporary order stopping same-sex marriage licenses in Austin

February 19th, 2015 · Comments Off on Texas Supreme Court issues temporary order stopping same-sex marriage licenses in Austin

Some detail added on Thursday evening.

This week, two state judges in Travis County have issued orders indicating that Texas’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, culminating in an order that permitted one license to be issued. (Here’s some collected coverage from KUT, our local NPR station.)

As that news story was blanketing local media this morning, the Texas attorney general was filing papers with the Texas Supreme Court requesting a stay of these Travis County rulings. The State’s motion was filed at 11:02am and asked the Court to issue immediate relief; I’ve uploaded a copy of the State’s motion. The Court issued a stay this afternoon, an order that the orders list document describes as granting the relief the AG has requested “in part.” Although the full text of the stay order is not (as I write this) yet on the Court’s website, you can get a sense of what “in part” means from the State’s request. The State requested the Court to stay both the temporary restraining order below and “all further state trial proceedings that seek to resolve the issues” of same-sex marriage or divorce. When we do see the order, I’d expect a formal stay of the order in this case but for the Court to stop short of actually “staying” other trial proceedings, some of which might not yet have been filed. [Update: Yes, here’s the stay order. It covers the specific restraining order below and does not mention other proceedings.]

There was speculation this afternoon about whether the marriage license already issued is valid. Chuck Lindell of the Statesman summarizes the AG’s press release about the stay, which suggests it is not:

My understanding, having now read the State’s motion for emergency relief, is that the AG has not yet requested a ruling on that question. (The State’s formal “petition,” which is not yet online, might request broader relief.)

As a legal matter, this subtlety about whether the license was “void”, or merely issued in error, has implications for whether it can be challenged after-the-fact, and perhaps by whom. That same question is deeply entangled with the AG’s attempt to intervene in a 2010 case in which a different Travis County judge issued a same-sex divorce decree. That set of appeals is still pending; the State argues in its filings today that the Court should freeze these new Travis County orders at least until that prior appeal is disposed.

Those merits decisions have been slowed down by, presumably, the Texas Supreme Court waiting on some relevant US Supreme Court cases to first be resolved. (The three petitions are among the oldest pending cases at the Court.) With the US Supreme Court now expected to issue its next ruling on same-sex marriage by the end of June, I would expect the Texas Supreme Court to wait to see the outcome before deciding this issue with finality. We may, or may not, from the Fifth Circuit in the meantime.

Resources

Because the State is challenging two distinct orders, there are two docket numbers in the Court.

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    : On Tuesday, the State filed a petition asking the Court to stay the first, more general order from a Travis County judge declaring Texas’s ban on same-sex marriages to be facially unconstitutional. Today, the Supreme Court granted that requested stay in full.

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    : The second petition was filed Thursday morning, about two hours after a Travis County court issued a restraining order demanding the county clerk issue one specific marriage license. The Texas Supreme Court granted the stay request only “in part.” You can read the State’s motion for emergency relief to get a sense of the issues. As a bonus, that motion attaches most of the trial court filings from earlier today. I’ll post the text of the stay order when available.

Tags: News and Links

Admissibility of seat-belt evidence in accident cases; Insurance coverage for the BP oil spill [Feb. 13, 2015]

February 13th, 2015 · Comments Off on Admissibility of seat-belt evidence in accident cases; Insurance coverage for the BP oil spill [Feb. 13, 2015]

With today’s orders list, the Texas Supreme Court issued opinions in two cases. It did not choose any new cases for review.

Opinions

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Tags: News and Links · Order Lists

Four opinions, no grants [Feb. 6, 2015]

February 6th, 2015 · Comments Off on Four opinions, no grants [Feb. 6, 2015]

With today’s orders list, the Court issued signed opinions in two cases, issued two per curiams, and did not grant any new cases for review.

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Tags: News and Links

Dallas is hosting the AJEI conference later this month

November 3rd, 2014 · Comments Off on Dallas is hosting the AJEI conference later this month

This year’s AJEI (Appellate Judges Education Institute) is being held in Dallas from November 13-16. If you’re in the area, you should see if part of the program works with your schedule. (If you’re already planning to attend, then please say hello if you see me wandering the halls).

The program lineup gives you a sense of the range of topics. This is a national event, and the centerpiece Saturday event is a two-hour program with Justice Scalia and Bryan Garner. The program also has some Texas Supreme Court flavor, including former Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, current Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, former Justice Scott Brister, former Justice (now federal judge) Xavier Rodriguez, and former Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson (who is indeed speaking twice).

I’ll be moderating a breakout panel about electronic briefing on Friday morning, with Judge Stephen Higginson of the Fifth Circuit, Justice Virginia Linder of the Oregon Supreme Court, and Kevin Newsom of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.

Tags: News and Links

Four grants: disqualifying counsel; suing compounding pharmacies; government immunity × 2 [Oct. 24, 2014]

October 27th, 2014 · Comments Off on Four grants: disqualifying counsel; suing compounding pharmacies; government immunity × 2 [Oct. 24, 2014]

The Court had a two-day private conference before this weekly orders list, leading to orders in more than four dozen petitions. Four cases were ultimately chosen for oral argument in January. The remaining petitioners and relators were not so lucky. The Court has posted the list at a new location.

New Grants

These are the cases chosen for oral argument with this orders list:

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Tags: News and Links · Order Lists

My apologies for a bumpy road on the blog this week and next

October 19th, 2014 · Comments Off on My apologies for a bumpy road on the blog this week and next

This weekend, the Texas court system rolled out a new website design for the Texas Supreme Court. The old “supreme.courts.state.tx.us” domain has been retired, with the Court’s information now folded into the larger “txcourts.gov” domain that already handles the courts of appeals. The new page format is cleaner and more modern. It will be good for humans with taste.

The software scrapers that feed this blog are, unfortunately, still trained for the old website. I’ve shut down the scrapers for a short bit until I can re-train and re-test that software. That should freeze the data in place as things stand now. (( If you see some glitches that crept into the data pool before the shutdown — such as case names disappearing from old blog posts — those should naturally resolve themselves once the system is re-trained and the scrapers can reanalyze the pages. ))

A compressed work schedule will prevent me from opening the code editor this week. My best estimate is that the blog will return to normal operation sometime the week of October 27th or the week of November 3rd.

Update 10:00am: Among the items that relocated were the Court’s previous slip opinions. Links that formerly went to a specific opinion now go to the Court’s main page.

I’ve written before about how entangled this blog is with my docket-tracking software. One side benefit is that, when there is some major change to the Court website, I can implement a change in one place and have the fix ripple through the blog archive. (This is not my first rodeo.)

Today’s payoff is this: I’ve written one quick fix for the opinion links in recent blog posts and some data tables. Those should now take you to my archived copy of the slip opinions, rather than to the Court website itself. (( This fix is not rolled out for posts older than mid-2012. The deeper archive can be fixed eventually, but not this morning. )) This fix doesn’t make the scrapers any smarter. But it does make the blog a little more usable in the meantime.

Tags: News and Links · SCOTXblog Announcements

A day for certified questions [Sep. 26, 2014]

September 26th, 2014 · Comments Off on A day for certified questions [Sep. 26, 2014]

It was a Fifth Circuit-focused day on the Texas Supreme Court orders list. The Court accepted one new certified question and scheduled another for oral argument.

Request denied for additional argument time

The other order of interest to practitioners might be the Court’s refusal to allow additional time for oral argument in We're sorry, but something went wrong (500)

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. The parties jointly made the request, suggesting that the facts suggested more than two “sides” and that each petitioner’s counsel thus needed 20 minutes of his own. (motion PDF). The Court decided, instead, to leave the parties with the original 20 minutes per side.

We don’t know how the Court would have reacted to a request for a more modest quantity of additional time, but this denial is a good point of reference the next time a client asks why you are not requesting more time for their case.

Issue Summaries

The Kroger case is set for argument on Dec. 9, 2014. As soon as the Court’s docket page notes that among the calendar entries, the case-status box below should also reflect it.

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Tags: News and Links