Supreme Court of Texas Blog: Legal Issues Before the Texas Supreme Court

Category: 'Order Lists'

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

June 1st, 2018 · Comments Off on Today’s grants and the shape of next year’s argument calendar [Jun. 1, 2018]

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. 

Tags: Order Lists · Practice Notes

Final Orders for June 2017

June 30th, 2017 · Comments Off on Final Orders for June 2017

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.)

Tags: Order Lists

No opinions or grants [Mar. 11, 2016]

March 11th, 2016 · Comments Off on No opinions or grants [Mar. 11, 2016]

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

Tags: Order Lists

No opinions or grants [Mar. 4, 2016]

March 5th, 2016 · Comments Off on No opinions or grants [Mar. 4, 2016]

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

Tags: Order Lists

Personal jurisdiction in a defamation case that crosses borders; interpreting an oil-and-gas agreement [Feb. 26, 2016]

February 26th, 2016 · Comments Off on Personal jurisdiction in a defamation case that crosses borders; interpreting an oil-and-gas agreement [Feb. 26, 2016]

With this week’s orders list, the Texas Supreme Court issued opinions in five cases. It did not select any new cases for future argument.

Looking at the calendar, to remain on-target to meet last year’s target Court has a fair number of cases to be decided in the next few months, to equal last year’s target of clearing its docket by the end of June. I see 44 argued cases remaining to be decided, with approximately 17 weeks remaining until the end of June.


Does Texas have personal jurisdiction over a Mexican TV station whose broadcasts reach the state?
Summary for previous event:
Set to be argued on October 12, 2015

This is a defamation case involving a broadcast that originated in Mexico and, it is alleged, caused harm in Texas. TV Azteka broadcasts from a location in Mexico that reaches both a local audience and several cities on the Texas side of the border.

The TV station filed a special appearance arguing that Texas courts lack jurisdiction to hear this defamation claim. The trial court denied that request, and the court of appeals agreed that Texas courts can proceed.

The parties dispute the degree to which the TV station has chosen to avail itself of the business opportunities, and legal responsibilities that may come, from having its signal extend into Texas.The plaintiff points to some materials suggesting that TV Azteka was selling advertisers on the benefits of having the signal extend into Texas. Emphasizing a different aspect of its revenue, the TV station says that it had no legal control over how its signals were used in Texas and was unable to charge local cable stations to rebroadcast them.

The national and state associations of broadcasters have filed amicus briefs, urging the Texas Supreme Court to take the case and rule that signals crossing international borders — like postings on the internet — do not automatically create personal jurisdiction wherever they are read.

Court of appeals must address all issues necessary to judgment

In an employee-arbitration case, the trial court agreed with an employee that the agreement was unconscionable. Its ordered addressed only some of the employee's arguments, leaving the others unanswered.

On appeal, the employee urged those other grounds as alternate reasons to affirm. The court of appeals reversed and ordered arbitration (the equivalent here of a rendition, not a remand), declining to consider the employee's alternate grounds:

The court did not address any other arguments that Cardwell raised to oppose arbitration, explaining without authority that “as the trial court did not base its determination of unconscionability on those grounds, we need not consider them.” The court of appeals observed in a footnote that Cardwell had not cross-appealed from the trial court’s findings and conclusions or complained of the omission of findings and conclusions.

The Texas Supreme Court reversed that outcome, remanding to the court of appeals to consider those alternative grounds. The Court noted that a party defending the trial court's judgment need not perfect a cross-appeal and that Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 47.1 says "[t]he court of appeals 'must hand down a written opinion that . . . addresses every issue raised and necessary to final disposition of the appeal.'”

Tags: Order Lists

Four grants for future argument (likely in the fall); rehearing granted in the Houston takings case between home owners and a flood-control district [Feb. 19, 2016]

February 19th, 2016 · Comments Off on Four grants for future argument (likely in the fall); rehearing granted in the Houston takings case between home owners and a flood-control district [Feb. 19, 2016]

This Friday’s orders list brings four more cases chosen for oral argument. It also brings a rare grant of rehearing in an argued case that was decided last June: Harris County Flood Control District and Harris County, Texas v. Edward A. and Norma Kerr, et al., No. 13-0303

The Court has not specified an argument date for the new grants. Most likely, they will be heard in the fall.

Rehearing Grant

In June, the Court decided Harris County Flood Control District and Harris County, Texas v. Edward A. and Norma Kerr, et al., No. 13-0303 . The vote was split 5-4, with two separate dissenting opinions. A motion for rehearing was filed, and fifteen amicus filings followed shortly thereafter, urging the Court to reconsider.

Today, the Court has granted the motion for rehearing but has not (yet) withdrawn its opinions and has not (yet) set the case for re-argument, if that is its intention. Instead, the case remains on the active docket, awaiting a more final disposition.

The timing of today’s order was driven by the timing of the motion for rehearing. It was filed on August 28th — 175 days before this orders list. Had the Court waited until next week to take action, the 180-day clock for rehearing motions set by the Texas Constitution would have expired.

New Grants


Set to be argued on September 13, 2016


Set to be argued on September 13, 2016


open records
Set to be argued on September 14, 2016


Set to be argued on November 7, 2016

Tags: Order Lists

Two (more) grants on a Tuesday, for argument in March [Feb. 16, 2016]

February 16th, 2016 · Comments Off on Two (more) grants on a Tuesday, for argument in March [Feb. 16, 2016]

That might sound familiar, or even vaguely predictable, for those monitoring the argument calendar:

Doing a little math… we might expect some grants to be announced on February 16th, to be argued on March 9th or March 10th.

The two cases granted with some orders issued earlier today (official version) are being scheduled for argument on March 9th and March 10th.

More details about these cases will appear after the docket is updated. Generally speaking, the J.B. Hunt case is about two Texas trial courts competing for jurisdiction. The Doctors Hospital case is about how liability for medical malpractice can, or cannot, percolate up through the limited-partnership structure owning a hospital.


Set to be argued on March 9, 2016

Tags: Order Lists

Deepwater Horizon case set for March argument; no opinions or grants [Feb. 12, 2016]

February 12th, 2016 · Comments Off on Deepwater Horizon case set for March argument; no opinions or grants [Feb. 12, 2016]

With today’s orders list, the Texas Supreme Court did not issue any opinions or choose new cases for argument.

The Court did, however, announce an argument date for the certified question it previously accepted involving the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (what many outside of a courtroom call the “BP Oil Spill”).

This is a fairly quick argument setting. In December, the Court accepted this certified question from the Fifth Circuit, and the parties are wrapping up merits briefing in the Texas Supreme Court now.1 The argument will be 25 days from today.

Does a claim for wrongful denial of insurance benefits require independent damages?


Chosen for future argument by order issued February 12, 2016

This is one of many cases percolating in the Fifth Circuit about the Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill. Here, the dispute is between various insurers over some subrogation and indemnification arrangements, internal to the complex stack of insurance that might apply to the project.

The Fifth Circuit resolved some of those questions under what it found to be well-settled law, and certified one other question to the Texas Supreme Court on a point that it found to be unsettled in Texas:

Whether, to maintain a cause of action under Chapter 541 of the Texas Insurance Code against an insurer that wrongfully withheld policy benefits, an insured must allege and prove an injury independent from the denied policy benefits?

The Fifth Circuit explains the uncertainty as being about whether Vail v. Texas Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., 754 S.W.2d 129 (Tex. 1988), remains good law. That case would answer the question "no." Two decades later, a different panel of the Fifth Circuit analyzed intervening Texas authority and held that Vail was no longer controlling on this point. Great American Insurance Co. v. AFS/IBEX Financial Services, Inc., 612 F.3d 800, 808 & n.1 (5th Cir. 2010). In now certifying this question to SCOTX for an authoritative answer, the panel observes that some intermediate Texas courts, contrary to the Fifth Circuit's conclusion in Great American, still treat Vail as controlling law.

See also:

  1. The docket calendar indicates that the reply brief was due yesterday, but that filing is not yet listed. It may be detained in e-filing purgatory. 

Tags: Order Lists