After several weeks of relative quiet, this week the Court met for its monthly conference. And this week’s order list included merits opinions in six cases (( It’s actually five new cases decided on the merits, one new opinion issued while granting a motion for rehearing, and one opinion issued explaining the Court’s denial of a rehearing in a petition for review. )) and four new cases set for oral argument this fall.

It’s hard to miss the coincidence between the conference and the volume of today’s orders. But it’s a little early to say if releasing the bulk of its opinions the week of a conference will become the Court’s pattern under its new calendar.

I’ll write about today’s merits decisions in my next post. For now, here are the other highlights from the order list:

Opinion on Denial of Rehearing

  • Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., No. 05‑0130. Today the Court issued a per curiam opinion on denial of rehearing, explaining why it was denying review in this petition for review.

    The Committee argues in its motion for rehearing that the present case raises an issue not involved in American Home, namely, whether an insurer engages in the unauthorized practice of law by employing staff attorneys to represent its affiliates’ insureds. The Committee has argued on appeal in this case that even if an insurer may employ staff counsel to represent its own insureds, it cannot represent its affiliates’ insureds. The court of appeals rejected the argument on the grounds that there was no evidence that Nationwide provided legal services to insureds of “any entity other than the Nationwide group of wholly owned and controlled companies.” But because the trial court did not address the issue in its judgment, it cannot be considered on appeal. Tex. R. App. P. 25.1(c).

    The net effect is to hold open that question until some future case, without the misimpression that the Court’s denial of review is a rejection of the argument.

New Grants

  • Spir Star AG v. Kimich, No. 07‑0340, from the First Court. Set for argument December 10th.

  • Ashley v. Hawkins, No. 07‑0572, from the Ninth Court. Set for argument December 11th.

  • Kappus v. Kappus, No. 08‑0136, from the Twelfth Court. Set for argument December 10th. This petition was granted after rehearing. The petition was actually denied on April 4th of this year and, during the rehearing process, the Court requested full briefing on the merits. This had been the Court’s longest-pending rehearing petition.

  • In re Department of Family & Protective Services, No. 08‑0524. Set for argument November 12th.