Latest from Reverse & Render

This past year presented some unique challenges for the judiciary, and specifically for the Supreme Court of Texas.  The court confronted a pandemic, a ransomeware attack, and some unusual election-year court filings.  In spite of these challenges, the court persevered and performed.  Here’s what my initial calculations show: During the 2020 calendar year, the court disposed of 97 causes, consisting of 82 petitions for review, 12 original proceedings, and 3 certified questions.  By comparison, last year, the court disposed of 88 causes, and in 2018, the court disposed of 98 causes. 30 of the causes were disposed of by per…
Cases involving questions on the admissibility of evidence rarely rise to the level of importance that the Texas Supreme Court gets involved.  Yet these questions routinely arise in the trial courts and are fundamental to trial practice.  The Texas Supreme Court recently examined an evidence question involving the admissibility of public records. In Fleming v. Wilson, the defendants moved for summary judgment on the defense of collateral estoppel.  They supported their motion by attaching a jury verdict form and a judgment from a prior case (tried by the same trial judge).  The verdict form and judgment were not certified…
At a recent continuing education seminar, one of the presenters stated as a fact that amounts awarded in a judgment for prejudgment interest do not need to be included in the amount of a supersedeas bond.  The presenter cited the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion in In re Nalle Plastics Family Ltd. Partnership, 406 S.W.3d 168 (Tex. 2013), as support for this statement.  There’s just one problem with relying on Nalle Plastics for this proposition—the issue in that case is whether attorney’s fees must be included in the amount of a supersedeas bond. Nevertheless, Nalle Plastics has been relied upon by…
The Fifth Circuit and the Texas Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the high bar that must be met to find that the plain language of a statute violates the absurdity doctrine. Under the absurdity doctrine a court will construe a statute by applying the plain meaning of the words used unless it would lead to absurd or nonsensical results that the legislature could not possibly have intended.  See, e.g., El Paso Educ. Initiative, Inc. v. Amex Props., LLC, 63 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 1166, 2020 Tex. LEXIS 436, at *14 (May 22, 2020), citing Cadena Comercial USA Corp. v. Tex. Alcoholic…
Two years ago, I noted that the data shows that the Texas Supreme Court grants a disproportionate number of petitions for review that come through certain intermediate appellate courts.   One of those intermediate appellate courts is the Third Court of Appeals District, informally known as the Austin Court of Appeals.  That trend continues. Focusing on granted petitions for review, I was curious about where some of these disputes started out, so I looked at what counties the cases originated in.   All things being equal, I would expect to see more cases coming from counties with higher populations, which also have…
The Supreme Court of Texas handed down an opinion in Regent Care of San Antonio, L.P. v. Detrick in early May.  The main holding in the case addresses the application of a settlement credit.   But one short paragraph at the end of the opinion has appellate practitioners talking. The paragraph in question states: “Regent Care also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury’s findings on causation and past medical damages. Having independently reviewed these issues, we conclude they present no error requiring reversal. The court of appeals’ judgment is correct, and further discussion of the issues would…
For many years after the Texas Supreme Court adopted rules that divided the opinions issued by the intermediate courts of appeals into “opinions” and “memorandum opinions,” many appellate practitioners privately concluded that if an opinion was designated “memorandum opinion,” the chances of getting Texas Supreme Court review were substantially reduced.  But in 2018, I reported that between the years 2014 and 2017 approximately 1/3 of the Supreme Court’s docket of granted petitions was made up of “memorandum opinions.”    When one considers the standard that is supposed to be applied to these designations, that’s a high proportion since only really significant…
Often one of the biggest disputes at trial relates to the value of services that a claimant seeks to recover from the opposing party.  At least for routine cases, the form and manner of proving the value of those services is made easier by statute, but when the value of the services is contested, things can get a little complicated. Section 18.001 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code allows a claimant to prove up a claim for services rendered by an affidavit rather than by live testimony under certain circumstances.  A party that wishes to controvert those services,…
I’ve run the numbers on the reversal rates for the intermediate appellate courts in Texas for the calendar year 2019.  The overall reversal rate for the year was 77%.  To clarify, when the Supreme Court of Texas granted a petition for review, it reversed the court of appeals 77% of the time in 2019.  Some of the courts of appeals performed better than others: First District Court of Appeals — 75% reversal rate Second District Court of Appeals — 78% reversal rate Third District Court of Appeals — 93% reversal rate Fourth District Court of Appeals — 89% reversal rate…
A dispute exists among the bench and bar as to whether attorney immunity from suit by a non-client is limited to conduct that is related to litigation. In 2015, the Supreme Court of Texas recognized that attorneys do not owe a professional duty of care to third parties who may be damaged by the attorney’s negligent representation of a client.  Cantey Hanger, LLP v. Byrd, 467 S.W.3d 477, 481 (Tex. 2015).  The policy reasons behind this holding is that attorneys owe duties of loyalty to their clients and that loyalty shouldn’t be compromised by imposing conflicting duties to non-clients. …