Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"The End”: This article from Monday’s issue of Texas Lawyer explains how former Texas Supreme Court Justice Steve Smith’s contest of the March 7th Republican primary for Place 2 of the state’s high court had come to an end on April 19th when it was dismissed by Judge Gisela Triana of the 200th District Court.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Supreme Court issued five opinions last week.

  • In Thomas v. Long, a Justice Wainwright opinion, the Court took jurisdiction to hold that there was no jurisdiction. After finding that the appellate courts had appellate jurisdiction to hear the interlocutory appeal, the Court dismissed the case because of the respondent's failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
  • In another opinion discussing the Court's jurisdiction, Brittingham-Sada De Ayala v. Mackie, Chief Justice Jefferson wrote that the Court did not have appellate jurisdiction to hear an interlocutory appeal of a trial court's denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction over an ancillary probate proceeding.
  • In The Ed Rachal Foundation v. D'Unger, the Court once again rejected invitations to create a common-law cause of action for all whistleblowers in this per curiam opinion.
  • In the insurance case of Allstate Indemnity Co. v. Forth, the Court issued this per curiam opinion that addressed "whether an insured has standing to sue her insurance company for settling her medical bills in what the insured considered to be an arbitrary and unreasonable manner." The Court dismissed the case because were "no allegations that the insured suffered damages or that the manner in which the insurance company settled the insured’s medical expenses caused her any injury."
  • In an election related opinion, the Court issued this per curiam opinion in In re Marion Barnett, conditionally granting relief to Reverend Marion Barnett because the Court believed that his failure to write his address in the appropriate place on his application still provided sufficient information to determine where he resides. Barnett is a candidate for an unexpired term for DISD Trustee, District Six.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

“Judges say Allstate charging too much for home insurance”: Yesterday’s Austin American-Statesman contained this article which mentions that, in addition to Allstate, two of the other largest home insurers are involved in legal battles because of their rates. One of these insurers, Farmers Insurance, is currently before the Texas Supreme Court over a $117 million settlement with the state that has been challenged by a group of policyholders.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Several news sources today contain articles discussing the June 1st deadline set by the Texas Supreme Court requiring that a new funding plan replace a school property tax system that the Court had previously declared unconstitutional. On Monday, the Texas legislature began their fourth special session to address this issue.

Austin American-Statesman
"$8.2 billion surplus could lure Texas lawmakers"

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Special session gets under way"

Houston Chronicle
"Perry's business tax plan gets Craddick's backing"

The Monitor
"Valley senators begin special session by refusing to sign education plan"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

“Court Cuts Back on Grandparents’ Rights”: Yesterday’s edition of Texas Lawyer included this article referring to the April 7th per curiam opinion in In Re: Karen Mays-Hooper. I previously reported this holding here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Trial lawyer Terry Oxford and SMU law professor Fred Moss published this article in the Texas Lawyer about the Texas Supreme Court's 6-3 decision in Hyundai v. Vasquez. The article discusses how the "broad sweep of the holding creates uncertainty about whether courts should permit fact-weighing questions when lawyers ask the questions to assist the lawyers in exercising peremptory strikes."

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Texas Supreme Court issued four opinions last week:

  • In the zoning case of City of Dallas v. Vanesko, the Court addressed whether "a city can enforce a zoning ordinance against a property owner whose substantially completed new home has been built in violation of the ordinance, even though the city had given preliminary approval to the owner’s building plans." In an opinion written by Justice Green, the Court ruled that it can. Justice O' Neill wrote this dissenting opinion.
  • In City of Houston v. Jackson, the Court addressed Chapter 143 of the Local Government Code, which deals with grievances filed by police officers and fire fighters. Justice O'Neill wrote an opinion dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction.
  • In Minnesota Life Insur. Co. v. Vasquez, the Court addressed extra-contractual damages in an insurance breach-of-policy case. Justice Brister wrote this opinion holding that claims for extra-contractual damages should not be a routine addition to every breach-of-policy case. Instead, "such damages are reserved for cases in which an insurer knew its actions were false, deceptive, or unfair."
  • In In re Karen Mays-Hooper, the Court issued this per curiam opinion involving grandparent visitation rights. The grandparents in this suit faced the same fate as the grandparents in a similar suit that the United States Supreme Court decided almost five years ago. As the Texas Supreme Court wrote, "[i]n Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), the Supreme Court of the United States held unconstitutional a Washington trial court’s order granting a boy’s grandparents visitation rights over the objection of his mother. Because the trial court’s order here is indistinguishable, it must meet the same fate."
Supreme Court Candidate Seeks Recount in Republican Primary: Texas Lawyer contains this article about the lawsuit filed by Steve Smith contesting the results of the Republican Primary held in March.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

“Judicial candidate files challenge”: Today’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram contains this article regarding Steve Smith’s formal election challenge that has been filed “to determine whether primary election problems in at least 11 counties across the state - including Tarrant County - affected his bid for the state's highest civil court.”

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

“Task Force Hopes to End Legal Limbo for Abused Kids”: Yesterday's Texas Lawyer contains this article (subscription required) highlighting the Texas Supreme Court’s newly appointed task force designed to improve court practice in child protection cases.

“Smith Challenges Outcome of Republican Primary For Place 2 on Supreme Court”: This article (subscription required) appeared in Friday’s Texas Lawyer detailing Steve Smith’s allegations regarding the outcome of the Republican primary held last month.