The fiscal-year-end orders came out today. It looks as if the Court staff was up very late dotting “i”s and crossing “t”s — the version of the order list up today even still has a notation at the top warning “DRAFT ONLY – NOT FOR PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION.”. This is a page linking to the opinions themselves.
The Court decided 18 cases with opinions today. (( There are other numbers floating around, but I’m breaking it down a little differently. )) That’s an indigestibly large number for me to summarize tonight without ruining my dinner. So I’ll focus on the other aspects of the order list.
The Court granted two motions for rehearing today, issuing a new opinion in one of them.
- Guitar Holding Co, L.P. v. Hudspeth County Underground Water Conservation District No. 1, No. 06â€‘0904. The Court withdrew its judgment of March 30th and issued a new judgment and a supplemental per curiam opinion.
Grant Thornton LLP v. Prospect High Income Fund, ML CBO IV (Cayman) Ltd., No. 06â€‘0975. The Court granted rehearing in this petition and added the cause to its oral argument docket in December.
In addition to Grant Thornton, the Court added six other cases to its argument calendar for the fall — it granted four petitions for review, set argument in one mandamus, and set argument in one habeas corpus. (( Seeing a habeas on the docket is standard fare in many appellate courts, but because the Texas Supreme Court handles only civil matters, it’s somewhat rare here. ))
- In re Gayle E. Coppock, No. 08â€‘0093, from the Fort Worth Court. This habeas corpus is set for argument on December 10, 2008.
Mann Frankfort Stein & Lipp Advisors, Inc. v. Brendan J. Fielding, No. 07â€‘0490, from the First Court of Appeals. This petition is set for argument on November 13, 2008.
Harrell v. State of Texas, No. 07â€‘0806, from the Amarillo Court. This petition is set for argument on November 13, 2008.
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld L.L.P. v. National Development & Research Corp., No. 07â€‘0818, from the Dallas Court. This petition is set for argument on December 9, 2008.
In re J.O.A., et al., No. 08â€‘0379, from the Amarillo Court. This petition is set for argument on October 14, 2008.
In re United Services Automobile Association, No. 07â€‘0871, from the San Antonio Court. This mandamus petition is set for argument on December 9, 2008.
The order list also indicates that the Court’s October 16, 2008 sitting is at Southern Methodist University School of Law in Dallas. (The previous two days, the Court will hear arguments in Austin.)
The Court also assigned argument dates to the other cases in which it had granted review over the past few months, including setting a new argument date for the rehearing in Entergy Gulf States v. Summers, No. 05â€‘0272. The argument is among those that will be held at SMU.
I’ve counted 18 cases decided. The Court’s public information officer counts 20. A simple count of the cases listed on the opinions page shows 22. The underlying order list shows 23 cases with at least one opinion issued. What accounts for these differences?
In addition to the 18 that I counted:
The Court issued a per curiam clarifying that its denial of review in In re G.B., No. 08â€‘0380, did not suggest any particular view about the constitutionality of Texas Family Code § 263.405(i). That hardly seems like an opinion on the merits to me.
And, as mentioned above, the Court issued a supplemental per curiam on rehearing in Guitar Holding Company. Whether you count that as a newly decided case is up to you.
In addition, there were two cases today in which the Court denied rehearing but still issued corrected opinions. That happened in In re McAllen Medical center, Inc., No. 05-0892. Unfortunately for court watchers, it was a correction to the majority opinion, not any creative additions to the dissent. It also happened in First American Title Insurance Co. v. Combs, No. 05â€‘0541, but I don’t see a link to that opinion. (In some past cases, the Court has not posted the new opinion when the changes are sufficiently minor.) I don’t count those toward my count of newly decided cases.
And the Court issued an opinion explaining its decision to abate a mandamus action in which the underlying officeholder had changed while the case was being considered. In re Baylor Medical Center at Garland, No. 06â€‘0491. That decision was controversial enough to draw a dissent from Justice Johnson, so perhaps it does deserve to appear in the count of substantive opinions even though the outcome is that the case simply moves off the Court’s active docket, perhaps to return later.
Even by my conservative count, today saw 18 new cases decided and 7 new cases set for argument. A very productive day, right up there with the mysteriously productive March 28, 2008, on which the Court decided 19 cases on the merits. (( That count was also a little uncertain. On that day in March, the Court also issued an opinion in a 20th case — a per curiam explaining its dismissal of a pending petition as having been improvidently granted. ))
I’ll have other posts next week breaking down today’s order list statistically. Among the highlights, the Court cleaned out its very oldest pending petition from its “submarine docket” (State of Texas v. Brown, No. 05â€‘0236) as well as its oldest pending argued and submitted case (Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas, Inc. v. Hogue, No. 04-0575). (( That category excludes abated cases. There’s actually one much, much older abated case. )) The Court seems to have made a really strong push to get its oldest cases out the door.