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When should we expect the cases argued in the fall to be decided?

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The Court’s new schedule seems simple enough. Cases argued in one term are decided before that term formally ends on August 31. The Court now […]

The Court’s new schedule seems simple enough. Cases argued in one term are decided before that term formally ends on August 31. The Court now treats June 30 as a self-imposed deadline, roughly mirroring the schedule of the U.S. Supreme Court (and leaving time for a meaningful summer break in July).

As advocates, the great benefit of having this single, fixed point on the calendar is that we now have a non-shrug-emoji answer to every client’s question, “When will my argued case be decided?” We can now confidently say “by June 30” (or slightly less confidently, “by the Friday before June 30, unless for some reason your case is abated”).

For cases argued in March and April, that’s super helpful. The median time for cases to be decided last term was 15 weeks; there are barely that many weeks between mid-March and the end of June. There just isn’t much room for variance. It’s hard to be wrong.

But for cases argued in September, the same fixed June 30 deadline is a school year away. Is there more precision we can offer? Does having more time remaining in the year allow the timelines to expand? Does having a relatively clean plate at the beginning of a term (with no cases carried over) allow at least some justices to write more quickly to get a head start?

The answer, it turns out, is yes and yes. Cases argued in September and October show a wide variance in decision time. The three fastest decisions of last term were argued in September. So, too, was the slowest decision of the term.

Some new Time to Decision charts

The small size of this data — and the varying gravitational pull of the June 30 deadline at different times of year — makes me reluctant to present a single summary statistic. Instead, I put together a new kind of chart1 to illustrate what is going on. If you’ve read this far, it might be worth your time to look over these charts to get your own visual sense of the patterns.

On the Time to Decision chart, each argued case is displayed as a bar on the graph with the endpoints showing when during the year it was argued, when it was decided, and (implicitly) how long the decision took. You can hover your mouse over the bar to see exact dates. The rightmost column shows the authoring justice; multiple justices means there were separate opinions. The chart has buttons at the top that let you reorder things by argument date, decision date, or time to decide.

What’s striking is how different the 2019 term looks compared to the pattern just two years ago. In the 2016 term and 2017 term, the Court took a different approach to the same June 30 deadline. There was no burst of quick decisions early. Instead, the cases argued last were the ones decided most quickly, while the cases argued first took much longer to decide.

Something is different. A notable, visible change is that the Court has started to hold two argument sittings in each of September and January — its return from summer break and from the holiday break. The direct effect was to shift some arguments earlier in the term, leaving even more time before the deadline of June 30. Taken alone, this would allow decision times for those early cases to grow even longer. But what the data for 2019 shows is different. Cases argued in the September and January sittings were among the very fastest decisions.

This burst of fast decisions seems like the product of focused effort by the Court to finish some opinions quickly. Part of that might have been motivated by Justice Johnson’s scheduled retirement in the fall. But other justices also wrote quickly last fall, and I would not be surprised if this general pattern continues.

So, is there a more refined answer to the question of how long decisions argued in September and October will take? Based on last term’s data, the median time to decide all cases was 15 weeks after argument, with most cases taking between 10 and 21 weeks from argument.2 And based on these charts, you can get a sense of how the time in the year a case is argued affects how quickly it might be decided.

If all that’s too much, you can just tell folks “by June 30” and rest easy knowing that you are unlikely to be wrong. If a decision does come quickly after argument, you can always break out that shrug emoji then.


  1. Well, it’s new to this blog. If these have been done for other courts, I’d be curious to see the examples (so I can shamelessly copy any good ideas for refinements). 
  2. These figures are displayed as the “quintile” lines that appear when you order the chart “By Time to Decide.” You can see for yourself how those figures have varied for past terms and how they fit the distribution more generally. 

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October argument sitting

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The Court has loosely themed this week’s argument days. Tuesday has two oil & gas cases, mixed with a certified question about the Texas fraudulent-transfer […]

The Court has loosely themed this week’s argument days. Tuesday has two oil & gas cases, mixed with a certified question about the Texas fraudulent-transfer act. Wednesday offers three cases about Texas’s margins tax on business entities. Thursday has only two cases, which involve trial courts applying ethical rules to attorneys in two different contexts (in a business transaction and in jury research).

Set for Argument
Week of October 7, 2019
Tuesday Oct 8
  • Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. and Energy Transfer Fuel, L.P. v. Enterprise Products Partners, L.P. and Enterprise Products Operating LLC (No. 17-0862)
    Partnerships
  • Copano Energy, LLC, et al. v. Stanley D. Bujnoch, Life Estate, et al. (No. 18-0044)
    Oil And Gas •  Statute Of Frauds
  • Ralph S. Janvey, in his capacity as Court Appointed Receiver For the Stanford International Bank Limited, et al. v. GMAG, L.L.C.; Magness Securities, L.L.C.; Gary D. Magness; Mango Five Family Incorporated, In Its Capacity As Trustee For the Gary D. Magness Irrevocable Trust (No. 19-0452)
    Fraudulent Transfer
Wednesday Oct 9
  • Sunstate Equipment Co., LLC v. Glenn Hegar, Comptroller of Public Accounts of the State of Texas; and Ken Paxton, Attorney General of the State of Texas (No. 17-0444)
    State Taxes
  • Glenn Hegar, Comptroller of Public Accounts of the State of Texas; and Ken Paxton, Attorney General of the State of Texas v. American Multi-Cinema, Inc. (No. 17-0464)
    State Taxes
  • Glenn Hegar, Comptroller of Public Accounts of the State of Texas and Ken Paxton, Attorney General of the State of Texas v. Gulf Copper and Manufacturing Corporation (No. 17-0894)
    State Taxes
Thursday Oct 10
  • William A. Brewer III v. Lennox Hearth Products, LLC; Turner & Witt Plumbing, Inc.; Strong Custom Builders, LLC; Thermo Dynamic Insulation, LLC; State Farm Lloyds Insurance Company; Ken and Becky Teel; Ross and Meg Rushing (No. 18-0426)
    Jury Trials •  Sanctions
  • In re Murrin Brothers 1885, Ltd., ERI-BBTX, LLC, and Concho Minick, individually and Derivatively on behalf of Billy Bob’s Texas Investments, LLC, Philip Murrin, and Cowtown Concessions, Inc., d/b/a River Ranch Stockyards (No. 18-0737)
    Attorney Disqualification

Comments Off on October argument sittingTags: Docket Updates

Second September argument sitting

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Set for Argument

Week of September 23, 2019

Tuesday Sep 24

Clinton W. (“Buddy”) Pike, Sr., […]

Set for Argument
Week of September 23, 2019
Tuesday Sep 24
  • Clinton W. (“Buddy”) Pike, Sr., Daniel L. Walker, W. Tobin Wilson, VHSC Cement, LLC, and Few Ready Mix Concrete Co. v. Texas EMC Management, LLC, Texas EMC Products, LP, and EMC Cement, BV (No. 17-0557)
    Capacity •  Economic Damages •  Partnerships •  Standing
  • Office of the Attorney General of Texas v. Laura G. Rodriguez (No. 17-0970)
    Mitigation •  Whistleblower Act
  • Town of Shady Shores v. Sarah Swanson (No. 18-0413)
    Open Meetings •  Sovereign Immunity •  Summary Judgment
Thursday Sep 26
  • Teal Trading and Development, Lp v. Champee Springs Ranches Property Owners Association (No. 17-0736)
    Property •  Restrictive Covenants •  Standing
  • Guy James Gray v. Patricia Skelton (No. 18-0386)
    Legal Malpractice •  Limitations
  • Brian Erikson and Quilling, Selander, Lownds, Winslett & Moser, P.C. v. Oscar Renda (No. 18-0486)
    Legal Malpractice •  Limitations

Comments Off on Second September argument sittingTags: Docket Updates

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.

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