Cowles & Thompson P.C.

In a decision that upends decades of open meetings law, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that the provision of the Texas Open Meetings Act prohibiting a government official from circumventing the Act through a “walking quorum” or “daisy chain” discussion outside of a public meeting is unconstitutionally vague. The Texas Open Meetings Act requires every meeting of a governmental body to be open to the public except as authorized. Tex. Gov’t Code §…
As I reported recently, the overall reversal rates for the fourteen courts of appeals is right at about the average from the past few years.  There are a few individual courts that had some noteworthy numbers. The Third Court of Appeals (Austin) historically has a high affirmance rate–perhaps due to the different type of docket that court handles–but this year the court improved on its average.  The Texas Supreme Court reversed only 42% of the…
With the close of 2018, the statistics for opinion disposition by the Texas Supreme Court are in.  I’m still crunching numbers and will follow this post with additional statistics, but here’s what some of the preliminary data show for the 2018 calendar year: 98 causes were disposed of.  That’s the highest in 5 years and 14 more than in 2017 and 2016. 24 per curiam (unsigned) opinions were issued.  That number is about the same…
The Fifth Circuit has affirmed a denial of all attorney fees under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act based on the “outrageous facts” and the conduct of the plaintiff’s attorneys. Crystal Davis alleged that Credit Bureau of the South violated Texas and Federal Debt Collection Practices Acts by using the words “credit bureau” in its name when attempting to collect a water bill of $107.29.  Davis also alleged that the defendant misrepresented itself in a…
The Texas Supreme Court resolved a longstanding debate and an unusual split in lower courts by declaring that there is no cause of action for intentional interference with inheritance. One issue for those victimized by persons taking undue advantage of the elderly is what remedies are available when an inheritance is interfered with.  Last year the Texas Supreme Court held that neither the Legislature nor the Supreme Court had recognized a tort for interference with…
There’s a perception in some appellate circles that if the court of appeals has issued a “memorandum opinion,” the chances of getting review by the Supreme Court of Texas are minuscule.   A look at the supreme court’s statistics might change a few minds. To give some perspective, first consider what it means to have a “memorandum opinion.”  The Texas rules of appellate procedure allow intermediate courts of appeals to designate written opinions as an “opinion”…
Each calendar year, the Supreme Court of Texas agrees to hear and decide somewhere around 80 petitions for review.   This is only a fraction of the petitions for review that come knocking on the court’s door.   When the court grants a petition for review the odds are very strong that the court is going to reverse the court of appeals judgment.  Overall reversal rates range between 75% to 85% for the years 2014 through 2017,…
For well over a decade, the Supreme Court of Texas has been presented with more than 1000 different matters each fiscal year.  These matters consist of petitions for review, petitions for writs of mandamus, certified questions, petitions for habeas corpus, direct appeals, and a handful of other miscellaneous items.  The bulk of the court’s docket consists of petitions for review, which are either denied or granted. Understanding the make-up of the court’s docket may be…
A “sham affidavit” has been described as referring to an affidavit in which an affiant offers sworn testimony that contradicts the affiant’s prior, sworn testimony on a material point and the affiant gives no explanation in the affidavit for the change in the testimony.  The scenario of the “sham affidavit” arises with great frequency in Texas summary judgment practice.   Because many district courts and intermediate appellate courts refuse to give credence to such an affidavit,…
The Federal Circuit has held that “virtual” business operations are insufficient to establish patent venue.  And it rejected the widely discussed four-factor approach to patent venue adopted by the Eastern District of Texas, which until recently was the nation’s busiest patent venue. For almost 30 years, venue of patent cases utilized the general federal venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c), which allows a corporation to be sued “in any judicial district in which such defendant…