It’s been a big couple weeks for the Ho family.
That’s Fifth Circuit Judge James C. Ho and Allyson N. Ho of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
A couple Fridays ago, Allyson Ho received an email from the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court informing her that the court had granted cert in one of her cases, Truck Insurance Exchange v. Kaiser Gypsum Company. After looking it up for herself and informing her client, she excitedly called her husband with the news. He, too, wanted to see it for himself. When the judge perused the orders list, he found the high court also granted cert in a case he had called out for being problematic, Gonzalez v. Trevino.
For the Supreme Court to grant cert is rare. For such luck to strike one family twice in a day may be unheard of. It certainly hasn’t happened to the Ho family before, according to Allyson Ho.
So how did they celebrate their victories? Just like any other weekend being parents, she said.
“It’s pretty wonderful because there’s nothing like children to keep you really grounded,” she said.
The couple’s son had a noteworthy weekend, himself. The 12-year-old went on his first camping trip with the Boy Scouts without his parents. Allyson Ho and her daughter, also 12 (the kids are twins), enjoyed a girls weekend on Cedar Creek Lake.
“I fight for my clients and (Judge Ho) fights for the constitution, and so when we’re off duty we just love nothing more than being a family and being with our children,” Allyson Ho said.
This will be Allyson Ho’s fifth time arguing before the Supreme Court. Four of those times have been on petitions where she won cert.
She’s learned that being clear and concise is key. Lawyers have limited time before the justices, so it’s imperative to distill their arguments down to their “most crystal clear,” she said.
In this case, Allyson Ho represents Truck Insurance Exchange, the primary insurer of Kaiser Gypsum Company and Hanson Permanente Cement, together called Kaiser in the case. Kaiser manufactured construction materials containing asbestos, according to Truck’s petition, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2016. Truck was left bearing the financial burden of 14,000 insured claims.
The Western District of North Carolina and the Fourth Circuit decided Truck was not a party of interest in Kaiser’s Chapter 11 reorganization plan. But other circuit courts have ruled the other way in similar cases, she pointed out, and the interpretations of Article III of bankruptcy code and Section 1109(b) vary from court to court. That’s created a need for the Supreme Court to step in, she argued.
“This case is an ideal vehicle for resolving the conflict and dispelling the confusion on an important, recurring issue of bankruptcy law, where uniformity is imperative,” Truck’s petition states.
Judge Ho got affirmation from the Supreme Court granting cert in Gonzalez even though he didn’t sit on the original three-judge panel. He authored a 13-page dissent on Feb. 22 after a majority of the court’s judges denied a petition for rehearing in the case.
Sylvia Gonzalez, a former city councilwoman in the small San Antonio enclave of Castle Hills, alleged she was arrested in retaliation for circulating a petition to remove the city manager. The then 72-year-old spent a night in jail. Gonzalez filed a lawsuit against the mayor and police chief, and the district court denied motions from those officials to dismiss the retaliation suit. But in a 2-1 ruling, the Fifth Circuit held Gonzalez failed to “establish a violation of her constitutional rights,” ending her suit.
When the majority of the court denied Gonzalez’s request for a rehearing in February, Judge Ho authored a dissent.
“Courts must make certain that law enforcement officials exercise their significant coercive powers to combat crime — not to police political discourse,” Judge Ho wrote.
Judge Ho also pointed to Gonzalez when he wrote a dissent in another case before the Fifth Circuit, Mayfield et al. v. Butler Snow et al. In his dissent, Judge Ho posed concerns for freedom of speech protections. Both Gonzalez and Mayfield believed they were jailed for disagreeing with people in power, Judge Ho wrote.
Allyson Ho got another boost this week when the Fifth Circuit ruled in her client’s favor in Alliance for Fair Board Recruitment; National Center for Public Policy Research v. Securities and Exchange Commission. Allyson Ho represents Nasdaq Stock Market as an intervenor. The organizations sought to strike down Nasdaq’s rules for disclosing information about their board members and a rule about access to a recruiting service. The Fifth Court found the rules were in compliance with law and the petitions were denied.
“We may be going to Vegas this week,” Allyson Ho joked with a hearty laugh.