U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr has a penchant for public service, fond memories of growing up in West Texas and is a proud owner of a 1962 VW Ragtop Beetle. Judge Starr recently took time out of his busy schedule to share some insights about his background, his career and his experiences so far on the bench.
Invoking the seldom-cited Eleventh Amendment, the U.S. Third Circuit ruled that a law allowing the use of federal powers of eminent domain could not be used against property owned by state governments. The ruling will likely disrupt a number of natural gas pipeline projects aimed at bolstering the nation’s energy infrastructure. Tony Mauro explains the stakes.
Federal appellate courts almost never remove an Article III judge from a case, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit did so Friday for the third time in three years to U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston. As a result, a professor’s employment discriminatiuon case against Sam Houston State University gets new life.
He’s been blocked from Ken Paxton’s Twitter feed and gained a “9” from Roomrater for the memorabilia-laden background he displays for his Zoom interviews on CNN. But UT Professor Stephen Vladeck is gaining notice, both as a scholar and as a high-profile commentator on the rule and the role of law. The Lawbook’s Tony Mauro has a profile.
Medical providers offer “letters of protection” to allow uninsured persons to receive medical treatment in anticipation of personal injury settlements. Critics say they can be used to hike the costs of litigation. The Texas Supreme Court heard arguments recently that discovery should allow defendants greater access to the real costs of such medical care. Janet Elliott details the arguments.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Jan. 19 in a climate change case involving BP that has drawn strong interest from the oil and gas industry in its ongoing efforts to keep climate litigation in federal courts, rather than state and local courts. The cases claim that cities should be compensated because emissions caused major damages.
The Texas Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit transitioned to remote arguments and kept busy dockets in 2020. The federal appellate court handed down key decisions offering guidance to businesses and commercial litigators regarding judgment finality, jurisdiction and removals. The state Supreme Court issued 32 emergency pandemic-related orders, clarified the high standard for sanctions under the court’s inherent authority and resolved a longstanding conflict on an issue of appellate procedure. The appellate experts at Haynes and Boone have the details.
Texas’ system of selecting judges by partisan elections and campaign fundraising is fraught with problems and ought to be changed. That is the opinion of the current and past chief justices of Texas, as well as the findings of a statewide blue-ribbon commission. What are the chances that Texas sees substantive judicial elections reforms? The two chiefs and two prominent trial lawyers – David Beck and Chip Babcock – have the answer.
Judge Jim Ho is the first Asian American and only immigrant on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. As a child, he learned English from Sesame Street and as a judge he has received threatening racist letters. He’s a hardcore conservative who has joined liberals on the appellate court multiple times, including a recent decision that has energy executives outraged. His wife, Allyson Ho has argued multiple cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, played the harp for the justices when she clerked for Justice O’Connor and helped Justice Amy Barrett through the confirmation process. Despite young twins at home and a hurricane that destroyed their house, Theodore Boutrous Jr. says they are “the ultimate legal power couple” getting things done.
April Farris, a former Yetter Coleman appellate partner and state Assistant Solicitor General, is settling into her first workweek as a justice on Houston’s Court of Appeals. Farris says she’s delighted to return to public service and carry out the oath she took on New Year’s Day.