Yesterday was (now former) Texas Solicitor General Jim Ho’s last day.
The interregnum did not last long. Today, Jonathan Mitchell of George Mason Law School is being introduced as the (new) Texas SG.
Update: I’ve looked at a few of his online research papers. One seems like it might be of particular interest to readers of this blog. In this short piece, Mitchell argues that the U.S. Supreme Court should consider abandoning its view that it lacks jurisdiction to reverse a state court solely on state-law grounds (the Murdock rule). (( The extended argument appears in this paper. )) It’s not a paper with which I agree, but it suggests that he has spent some time thinking about the role of state courts.
Relevant links: OAG press release – faculty bio page – captured screenshot – CV (PDF) – his Rate My Professors page
6 responses so far ↓
1 Leif // Dec 10, 2010 at 10:32 am
Is Attorney General Abbott just trying to run through all of the guys with whom I went to law school who are in the DC area? Because there are a few of us Chicago guys only a couple of hours down the road.
2 John // Dec 10, 2010 at 10:46 am
Perish the thought that Abbott should ever appoint a Texas appellate lawyer to be Texas’ chief appellate lawyer.
3 Don Cruse // Dec 10, 2010 at 11:01 am
For what it’s worth, his predecessor Jim Ho was a practicing Texas appellate lawyer before being named SG.
Abbott does show a predilection to choosing SGs with a federal-law background rather than a state background. That probably helps on the handful of cases per year where Texas wants to make a national splash, which are of special interest to the top levels of OAG. The federal experience is less directly applicable to the more typical appeals facing state agencies or nuanced questions of Texas law.
But Texas OSG isn’t a one-person office. Many of the same people I worked with are still there, and they eat those Texas law questions for lunch.
4 Brandy // Dec 10, 2010 at 12:53 pm
Um, shouldn’t the solicitor general be licensed to practice in Texas?
5 Don Cruse // Dec 10, 2010 at 2:32 pm
For what it’s worth (and after using that same cliche twice today, not very much), I also came to OSG from out-of-state and ended up starting at OSG about a month before being sworn into the Texas bar. That could be a limitation until he’s admitted.
His predecessor also had a limitation for about a year — in some ways the opposite one — that he could practice in Texas courts but not yet the U.S. Supreme Court because his clerkship was too recent.
The more interesting trend, I think, is hiring very young SGs. The post is clearly a launching pad, not a landing pad.
6 Anon // Dec 11, 2010 at 10:52 am
The Murdock blog post you linked to is actually based off a longer (fantastic) article published in the Chicago Law Review:
Also, on the issue of Mitchell’s lack of Texas ties: I never really considered Ted Cruz to be a Texas lawyer before he was appointed. Sure, he was born in Texas, but he was a DC lawyer as well. It wasn’t a big deal for him to be appointed SG and it shouldn’t be a big issue here.
The thing that I am curious about is that Jonathan Mitchell has never been a practicing lawyer who managed a staff. Ted Cruz was a private lawyer for a few years, but, more importantly, he definitely managed a staff when he was at the FTC. Jim Ho may have managed a staff at the DOJ (unclear), but he certainly ran cases and managed subordinates when he was in private law practice immediately before being appointed SG. I don’t think Mitchell ever has. He has been a law clerk, a law professor, and an OLC lawyer (which is pretty much a mix of law clerk and professor).
(That being said, Mitchell has argued three times before courts of appeals, whereas I’m not sure Jim or Ted had done so before coming to the SG’s office; but I don’t know that for sure.)