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Oral arguments begin for the 2020 Term

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The Texas Supreme Court has front-loaded its argument calendar this year, with two weeks of arguments scheduled for September.

This first week marks the first argument […]

The Texas Supreme Court has front-loaded its argument calendar this year, with two weeks of arguments scheduled for September.

This first week marks the first argument sitting for Justice Busby and the first for Justice Bland since 2006, when she was chosen to sit by designation in a case that was re-argued after two of the regular justices had recused themselves (Hyundai Motor Company and Hyundai Motor America, Inc. v. Victor Manuel Vasquez, and Brenda Suarez Vasquez, individually and on behalf of the Estate of Alyssa Amber Vasquez, No. 03-0914 ).

Set for Argument
Week of September 16, 2019
Tuesday Sep 17
  • ConocoPhillips Company, Rodolfo C. Ramirez, individually and as Independent Administrator of the Estate of Ileana Ramirez, and El Milagro Minerals, Ltd. v. Leon Oscar Ramirez, Jr., Individually, and Jesus M. Dominguez, as Guardian of the Estate of Minerva Clementina Ramirez, an Incapacitated Person (No. 17-0822)
    Attorneys Fees •  Oil And Gas •  Wills
  • George P. Bush, As the Land Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office v. Lone Oak Club, LLC (No. 18-0264)
    Water Law
  • Ladonna Degan; Ric Terrones; John McGuire; Reed Higgins; Mike Gurley; Larry Eddington; Steven McBride v. the Board of Trustees of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (No. 19-0234)
    Public Employees •  State Constitution
Wednesday Sep 18
  • San Antonio River Authority v. Austin Bridge & Road, L.P. and Hayward Baker Inc. (No. 17-0905)
    Arbitration •  Local Immunity
  • In re Comaneche Turner, as Natural Parent and Next Friend of M.T., a minor (No. 18-0102)
    Discovery •  Med Mal
  • Nathan Robinson and Misti Robinson, individually and as Representatives of All Persons Similarly Situated v. Home Owners Management Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Home of Texas and Warranty Underwriters Insurance Company (No. 18-0504)
    Arbitration •  Class Actions
Thursday Sep 19
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., Warner Bros. Technical Operations, Inc. d/b/a Warner Bros. Advanced Digital Services; TMZ Productions, Inc.; EHM Production, Inc. d/b/a TMZ; TMZ.com; and Elizabeth McKernan v. Robert Jones (No. 18-0068)
    TCPA •  Defamation
  • In re R.R.K., a child (No. 18-0273)
    Appellate Rules •  Child Custody •  Finality
  • Creative Oil & Gas Operating, LLC v. Lona Hills Ranch, LLC (No. 18-0656)
    TCPA •  Free Speech •  Right To Petition

Comments Off on Oral arguments begin for the 2020 TermTags: Docket Updates

SCOTX again clears its docket of argued cases

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With this past week’s orders, the Texas Supreme Court finished issuing opinions in the cases that were argued during its 2018 term. All the recent […]

With this past week’s orders, the Texas Supreme Court finished issuing opinions in the cases that were argued during its 2018 term. All the recent opinions are collected on this blog page.

This marks four years that the Court has met its target of clearing those argued cases from its docket by the end of June, roughly matching the U.S. Supreme Court calendar.

This week’s orders also look ahead to the fall, assigning specific argument dates to 30 cases that will be heard in September and October.1

Some early statistics

I try to keep my published statistics up-to-date throughout the year, but one of the Justices might have beaten me to it with some tweets on Friday morning.

My opinion totals, luckily for me, match those. I show 71 signed decisions and 29 per curiams, totaling 100.

There could be two wrinkles with my totals. First, I did decide to count the new decision on rehearing in USAA Texas Lloyds Company v. Gail Menchaca, No. 14-0721 with this new term. The Court granted rehearing, wrote a substantially different opinion, and changed its voting alignment. For my purposes at least, that’s a new decision. So, it comes off the books for 2017 and goes onto the books for 2018.

Second, I also decided to treat USAA Texas Lloyds v. Menchaca as a plurality, rather than a majority.2 I’m not sure how the official statistics, when they’re issued, will classify this case. Although there are parts of the lead opinion that gathered more than four signatories, only three justices joined the opinion’s rationale for the judgment of remand. That feels like a plurality to me.

By my count, that makes two pluralities this term. The other was issued just this past Friday. In Amanda Bradshaw v. Barney Samuel Bradshaw, No. 16-0328 , the five justices who voted for the judgment did not agree on the rationale.

And if you’re looking for a sneak peak at my voting tables showing how the Texas Supreme Court Justices vote with or against each other, the online version of that chart now covers all the opinions through June 2018. I haven’t yet had time to really analyze this term’s patterns. But if you want to explore the rare disagreements between some justices, or rare agreement between others, you can click through to see which specific opinions led to these totals.


  1. The list of those granted cases is available on this blog page, and the fall calendar begins on this page
  2. My opinion chart for the term now breaks majorities and pluralities into separate columns. 

Comments Off on SCOTX again clears its docket of argued casesTags: News and Links

Today’s grants and the shape of next year’s argument calendar [Jun. 1, 2018]

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With the first orders list of summer, the Texas Supreme Court issued opinions in four cases, chose twelve new cases to be argued in the […]

With the first orders list of summer, the Texas Supreme Court issued opinions in four cases, chose twelve new cases to be argued in the fall, and formally dismissed a mandamus petition that was (very briefly) set for oral argument this past March.1

Next year’s argument calendar

At this week’s conference, the Court made grant-or-deny decisions about some of the pending fully-briefed petitions that had been studied by staff. The Court chose 12 to be argued this fall, and it denied review for 9 others. Other fully-briefed petitions remain pending (the blog tracks those, too), and I expect to see another round or two of “grants” later in the summer.

With this week’s additions, the total number of grants for next year now stands at 14, which could fill out the September argument sitting (even if no more grants were made).

What struck me, when I looked at next year’s calendar, is that the Court seems to be experimenting with front-loading arguments into September and January, leaving more calendar time for drafting of opinions.

For comparison, in recent years the Court has tended to only have one argument sitting in September (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014) and one in January (2018, 2017, 2016, 2015). The sole exception (Sept. 2015) had sittings in the first and last weeks of the month.

The Court hasn’t explained its thinking, but an educated guess is that shifting arguments earlier in the term could ease some of the internal scheduling issues created by having a single fixed June 30 “deadline” for getting opinions out the door.2 More time to deliberate, in more cases.

We may see other ripple effects of shifting arguments forward in the term. For example, there might be more time pressure to consider “grants” in November or December to fill out a January argument calendar. Or it’s very possible that some of these planned argument dates might, if not filled, quietly disappear as the Court updates its online calendar.

Today’s decisions

The Court issued opinions in four argued cases today, including one 5-4 decision.

There are now 18 argued cases remaining to be decided this term. (The blog tracks those cases here.)

Petitions chosen for oral argument

These are the 12 petitions chosen for future oral argument:

One of the petition denials today involved a dispute over whether Texas’s public-information laws require state officials to reveal which pharmacy has been providing Texas’s execution drugs. The Austin-American Statesman has coverage: “Court upholds ruling requiring Texas to reveal execution drug source” (Jun. 1, 2018)


  1. The mandamus petition was In re Ford Motor Company, No. 17-0264 . After receiving notice that this case had been set for argument, the plaintiff voluntarily non-suited Ford from the trial proceeding and filed a motion to dismiss the mandamus on the ground of mootness. Ford opposed that motion, arguing that exceptions to the mootness doctrine should apply. The Court removed the case from the argument calendar and, today, grants the motion to dismiss. 
  2. The change might also have been inspired by the U.S. Supreme Court’s practice of holding two-week argument sittings, instead of one-week sittings. But the math isn’t precisely comparable. The U.S. Supreme Court hears fewer cases per day (just two, with rare exception), so a five-day sitting of that Court might have the same number of causes as a three-day sitting of ours. 

Comments Off on Today’s grants and the shape of next year’s argument calendar [Jun. 1, 2018]Tags: Order Lists · Practice Notes

Final Orders for June 2017

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Earlier today, the Texas Supreme Court issued decisions in its final four argued cases from the term.

The Court’s official website has been struggling to recover […]

Earlier today, the Texas Supreme Court issued decisions in its final four argued cases from the term.

The Court’s official website has been struggling to recover from a serious server problem earlier this week, but I’m posting a copy of the opinions here:

(Some older opinions are gathered on this page.)

You can also see my website’s version of the full orders list.

The stats on my website have been updated but not yet triple-checked. You can see:

(There were 11 cases with dissents this term. I bet the “under” but, at exactly 11, I think that qualifies as a push.)

Comments Off on Final Orders for June 2017Tags: Order Lists

Are the SCOTX dissents coming in June?

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I’ve been publishing voting stats about the Texas Supreme Court since 2010, but my first project was a look back at four years in which […]

I’ve been publishing voting stats about the Texas Supreme Court since 2010, but my first project was a look back at four years in which the court had the same nine members (the 2006 to 2009 terms). Over that span, the court issued about 25 decisions with a dissent each year — and about 9 per year were 5-4 votes.

The 2010 term marked a recent low with only 11 cases receiving any dissent from the judgment. Since then, the totals have been 22, 23, 14, 19, 15, and (last year) 18 decisions with dissents. (You can poke through the details on the Texas Supreme Court voting patterns charts.)

With a month to go, the total for the 2017 term is only 5:

Dissents per term

As it happens, dissents saw a similarly slow start last year. Through May 2016, the court had issued only 7 decisions with dissents — before a surge of dissents in June pushed the year-end total to 18.

Should we expect this term to be similar? Or will this be the fewest dissents since at least 2005?

If placing a bet, I would take the “under.”

The short reason why: there are very few “older” argued cases yet to be decided.

For obvious reasons, it takes longer to to produce decisions with dissents than without. Some time is needed for an internal back-and-forth of drafts among the justices. The dissent reacts to what the majority writes, and often the majority makes improvements and adds a section respodning to the dissent. In rare instances, a dissent might even persuade enough other justices to win the day. (If you see a published “dissent” with an unusually detailed fact section and procedural history, that might be a tell.)

Most of the dissents published in June 2016 were from cases that had been argued the previous fall (or even earlier), so the court had plenty of time for its internal deliberations. Only three of last June’s dissents were for cases argued that spring.

In 2017, those older cases are already off the board. Only a single case remains from last fall’s argument calendar (Pagayon v. ExxonMobil, No. 15-0642). Only two remain from this January. The other sixteen cases were argued in the February or March sittings.

Although I wouldn’t bet on a large number of additional dissents, it’s always possible. The cases argued late this spring might prove especially contentious. What’s clear, however, is that if the court does release a significant number of dissents this June, they will have been written in impressively short time.

Comments Off on Are the SCOTX dissents coming in June?Tags: Practice Notes

School finance: The State wins; the ISDs lose; the Legislature now has a wider range of options to reform the system

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Today, the Court issued its ruling in the Texas school finance case. The public information officer’s summary is more than 3000 words. I tried it […]

Today, the Court issued its ruling in the Texas school finance case. The public information officer’s summary is more than 3000 words. I tried it in three tweets:

The vote was unanimous on the merits, although some Justices wrote separately to emphasize the importance of education.

Comments Off on School finance: The State wins; the ISDs lose; the Legislature now has a wider range of options to reform the systemTags: Case Notes

No opinions or grants [Mar. 11, 2016]

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The Court again had a quiet orders list this week, with no opinions or grants.

The Court again had a quiet orders list this week, with no opinions or grants.

Comments Off on No opinions or grants [Mar. 11, 2016]Tags: Order Lists

No opinions or grants [Mar. 4, 2016]

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The Court did not issue any opinions with this week’s orders list.

The Court did not issue any opinions with this week’s orders list.

Comments Off on No opinions or grants [Mar. 4, 2016]Tags: Order Lists