Archives: Opinions & Judgments

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SCOTX: Postjudgment Interest—All Accrual Dates Are Not Created Equal

Maitreya Tomlinson
Statutes that appear clear are oft fraught with unanswered questions. This is unsurprising, as drafters cannot anticipate every scenario when crafting legislation. Falling into that vein, last week, the Texas Supreme Court decided a previously unaddressed question regarding the accrual date of postjudgment interest under the Texas Finance Code. In Long v. Castle Texas Production … Continue Reading

It’s That Time of (the Fiscal) Year

D. Todd Smith
Clients frequently ask appellate lawyers, “How long until the court makes a decision?” It’s a question we all struggle with because the number of variables is too great to allow anything but a semi-educated guess. The period is measured in months, if not years. The fiscal year for Texas appellate courts ends on August 31. … Continue Reading

SCOTX: Attorney Fees Need Not Be Superseded on Appeal

D. Todd Smith
In November 2011, I posted about whether attorney fees must be superseded to stay execution of a judgment pending appeal. Today, in In re Nalle Plastics Family Limited Partnership (No. 11-0903), the Texas Supreme Court resolved a split among the intermediate courts of appeals and answered the question, “No.” Let me set the stage a … Continue Reading

Principled Appellate Decisions

D. Todd Smith
Yesterday afternoon, I gave a one-hour presentation to a group of 11 intermediate appellate justices on the topic of “Principled Appellate Decisions.” The presentation was part of the Texas College for Judicial Studies, a program providing educational opportunities to judges who desire to improve their adjudication skills and acquire specific training in their jurisdictional specialization. My … Continue Reading

Use of K-9 Units at Traffic Checkpoints

Lujan v. State, No. PD-0303-10, 2011 WL 93025 (Tex. Crim. App. Jan. 12, 2011). On petition for discretionary review, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals approved the use of K-9 units at a stationary traffic checkpoint implemented with the stated purpose of merely identifying unlicensed and uninsured drivers. Lujan was traveling through El Paso with … Continue Reading

Rare Vacatur in Arbitration Appeal

D. Todd Smith
I’ve been involved in a number of arbitrations in my career, both as lead counsel at the hearing stage and in post-hearing proceedings challenging the award.  I’ve learned to tell clients that the time to win the case is at the arbitration hearing, because the chances of getting a trial judge or an appellate panel … Continue Reading

CCA Overrules Clewis‘s Factual Sufficiency Review

Publisher’s Note:  The following is Brandy Wingate‘s first post on this blog.  Please join me in welcoming Brandy to the blogosphere! In a splintered decision in Brooks v. State, 323 S.W.3d 893 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overruled Clewis v. State, 922 S.W.2d 126 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996), which provided for … Continue Reading

More Recusal Motions Coming in Texas Appeals

D. Todd Smith
This morning’s release of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. (No. 08-22) could open the door to more recusal motions in Texas appellate courts (and possibly trial courts). In Caperton, the Court held that due process required a West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals justice to recuse himself … Continue Reading

Third Court Upholds Future Mental Anguish Award

D. Todd Smith
In Hyde Park Baptist Church v. Turner (No. 03-07-00437-CV), a case involving allegations that a young child suffered abuse at the hands of a church daycare worker, the Third Court of Appeals has affirmed a money judgment that included a significant award for future mental anguish. The Court rejected the church’s no-evidence challenge to that award after determining that the … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Orders & Opinion 10/17/08

D. Todd Smith
The Texas Supreme Court issued one opinion with this week’s regular orders.  In DiGiuseppe v. Lawler (No. 04‑0641), the Court (Third Court of Appeals Justice Alan Waldrop—appointed under Tex. Gov’t Code § 22.005—joined by Justices Hecht, Wainwright, Brister, and Willett) held that a real-estate purchaser seeking specific performance of the contract had to prove that he was ready, … Continue Reading

How Is the Texas Appellate Court System Structured?

D. Todd Smith
This is the first installment of my series entitled "20 Questions About Texas Appellate Practice."  The question answered here is:  "How is the Texas appellate court system structured?"  Visit the original post (linked above) for the list of questions updated with links to their respective answers. Texas has 14 intermediate courts of appeals, each of which hears both civil and criminal … Continue Reading

Third Court Affirms Decision Regarding Bullock’s “Dream House”

D. Todd Smith
I’m not a star-struck person.  The few times I’ve seen celebrities cavorting about Austin, I haven’t been fazed.  But just about every lawyer in town knows the story about how Sandra Bullock’s "dream house" had to be torn down (allegedly) because of defective workmanship.  Bullock and the general contractor got into a legal tussle that ultimately settled … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Orders & Opinions 6/27/08

D. Todd Smith
The Texas Supreme Court issued four decisions—two of which were among the older cases on its docket—with this week’s regular orders. In Pleasant Glade Assembly of God v. Schubert (No. 05-0916), the Court held that a church was not estopped from asserting its constitutional rights, reversed a money judgment against the church, and rendered judgment of dismissal because the case represented an ecclesiastical dispute … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Lets FLDS Decision Stand

D. Todd Smith
I’m a little late to this party—I just happened to be at a conference today and another function this evening with some of the lawyers involved—but the Texas Supreme Court denied the State’s mandamus petitions in the FLDS cases this afternoon.  The Supreme Court of Texas Blog discusses the per curiam decision in the lead case and … Continue Reading

$26 Million Vioxx Judgment Reversed

D. Todd Smith
In Merck & Co. v. Ernst (No. 14-06-00835-CV), the Fourteenth Court of Appeals has reversed Mark Lanier‘s $26.1 million judgment in a highly publicized Vioxx case and has rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing.  (The jury verdict included a $229 million award for punitive damages, which trial court reduced in accordance with statutory caps.)  The concluding paragraphs … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Orders & Opinions 5/23/08

D. Todd Smith
The Texas Supreme Court issued two decisions with today’s regular orders. In Providence Health Center v. Dowell (No. 05-0386) (consolidated with Petit v. Dowell (No. 05-0788)), a negligence action against emergency-room personnel for failing to prevent a suicide, the Court concluded that any connection between releasing the patient and the patient’s death was too attenuated for proximate cause.  The … Continue Reading

FLDS Children Going Home?

D. Todd Smith
In In re Steed (No. 03-08-00235-CV) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam), the Third Court of Appeals has conditionally granted the petition for writ of mandamus and vacated the district court’s order placing more than 400 FLDS children in state custody.  The Supreme Court of Texas Blog, the ABA Journal, and other media outlets are reporting additional details. Chief Justice Law, Justice … Continue Reading

So Much for Delay on the Lead Rate Case

D. Todd Smith
The Third Court of Appeals has released its opinion in the lead State Farm rate case, Geeslin v. State Farm Lloyds (No. 03-05-00067-CV).  So much for any concerns that the recent panel-switch would delay the decision—although the Court did not decide all the cases together, as Chief Justice Law indicated it might.  Here is the opening paragraph … Continue Reading

Stretch the Facts, Go to Jail?

D. Todd Smith
The following is a guest post from Roger Hughes of Adams & Graham, LLP: Lawyers, and perhaps appellate attorneys, now face a new problem if their briefs or pleadings stretch facts or are flat wrong about them.  That problem is indictment and jail.  This week, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal decided round two of Vasilas … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Vacates Arbitration Award

D. Todd Smith
The Texas Supreme Court issued one new decision and one substituted opinion with this week’s regular Friday orders. In Perry Homes, a Joint Venture v. Cull (No.  05-0882), the Court held that the plaintiffs waived their right to arbitration by substantially invoking the litigation process, including "request[ing] hundreds of items of merits-based information and conduct[ing] months of discovery under … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Orders & Opinions 4/4/08

D. Todd Smith
After last week’s barrage (from which I’m not the only one still recovering), the Texas Supreme Court issued just two decisions with this week’s orders. In Ansell Healthcare Products, Inc. v. Owens & Minor, Inc. (06-0386) (per curiam), the Court followed last week’s decision involving the same parties and issues, Owens & Minor, Inc. v. Ansell Healthcare Products, … Continue Reading

The Buzz on Hall Street v. Mattel

D. Todd Smith
The blogosphere has been a little slow catching on to yesterday’s SCOTUS decision in Hall Street Associates, L.L.C. v. Mattel, Inc. (06-989).  Aside from my own post, here are the blog entries I have found discussing the case: Adjunct Law Prof Blog, which opines that parties to a collective bargaining agreement can still alter the standard of judicial review because … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Invalidates Custom Standards of Judicial Review Under FAA

D. Todd Smith
In Hall Street Associates, L.L.C. v. Mattel, Inc. (06-989) (previously discussed here), the U.S. Supreme Court has held that a contract purporting to allow judicial review of an arbitration award for evidentiary and legal errors cannot be enforced under the Federal Arbitration Act. Although this decision shutters the notion that parties can contract for expanded … Continue Reading

The Appellate Judge’s Unshared Opinion

D. Todd Smith
In today’s On Appeal column,‘s Howard Bashman discusses those instances in which an appellate judge, rather than writing a separate concurring opinion, merely issues a short statement to the effect that he or she concurs in the result.  While somewhat rare, Texas appellate justices occasionally engage in this practice. Bashman concludes: A judge who … Continue Reading