The Court did not issue any opinions with today’s orders list, but it granted rehearing in a case about how the statute of frauds applies to purchases by a trust or partnership.

John Ganim v. J. Farouk (Frank) Alattar, No. 10-0592.

Two business partners discussed entering a real-estate transaction together to buy some property, and one of them signed for it as “Trustee” (of an unidentified trust). The two later had a falling out, disagreeing about whether the land was bought for them collectively or just by one of them.

In June, the Texas Supreme Court held that the statute of frauds did not bar enforcement of the parties’ oral agreement about this real estate purchase (opinion).

Rehearing was sought, and an amicus brief was submitted by former Justice Brister on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth — which had its direct appeal about the ownership of church property accepted by the Court two weeks ago.

The amicus brief suggests that the diocese is concerned about how a broad reading of Ganim v. Alattar might affect its pending direct appeal:

… the opinion’s suggestion that a claimant to property can plead around the statute of frauds and the Texas Trust Code by asserting nothing but an oral agreement for joint acquisition of land. Can a third party — who has no title, no signed writing, and no money at risk — become owner of real estate simply by convincing a jury that an oral promise of joint ownership was made many years ago? If that is Texas law, then claimants from Rome, Canterbury, or anywhere else might ask a jury to award interests in Texas church properties based on nothing but oral testimony about “understandings” from long ago.

The Court’s grant of rehearing in Ganim gives it a little more time to sort through the broader implications.

The amicus strategy here is also instructive. Although many groups have some interest in how this rule applies to partnerships or trusts, this amicus brief had the secondary (or perhaps primary?) goal of highlighting the importance of the diocese’s pending direct appeal. Nicely done.