: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Texas State Legislature so Collegial They Let Each Other Cast their Ballots, How Heart-Warming

Austin’s KEYE-TV exposes what may euphemistically be termed the ‘lax’ voting procedure of the Texas legislature, or if you were to apply the rules those same legislators propose for the rest of us – intentional, widespread voting fraud.

These same legislators presumably learned a little about the notion of ‘one person, one vote’ during our little redistricting fiasco. I’ll also assume for the sake of my sanity what small measure of faith in the system I’ve managed to retain through my first year of law school, that these legislators were voting the way they knew their absent colleagues would have voted had they been there.

via Boing Boing: Texas legislator explains her fraudulent voting on lack of “bathroom breaks”

Southern District of Texas Judge Sam Kent takes a Leave, Speculation Follows

As reported in Legal Trade, Houston’s Clear Thinkers, the Houston Chronicle and AbovetheLaw, U.S. District Judge Sam Kent will be temporarily absent. No reason for the absence has been given, leading many to conclude that it can’t be good, speculating that it results from some sort of complaint against Judge Kent or perhaps an illness.

AbovetheLaw takes the opportunity to point out Kent’s noted propensity to take poetic license in his opinions, to the amusement of all but the lawyer or party being tied to the whipping post therein. My favorite from Smith v. Colonial Penn. Ins. Co., 943 F. Supp. 782 (S.D. Tex. 1996):

“The Court, being somewhat familiar with the Northeast, notes that perceptions about travel are different in that part of the country than they are in Texas. A litigant in that part of the country could cross several states in a few hours and might be shocked at having to travel fifty miles to try a case, but in this vast state of Texas, such a travel distance would not be viewed with any surprise or consternation. FN1 Defendant should be assured that it is not embarking on a three-week-long trip via covered wagons when it travels to Galveston. Rather, Defendant will be pleased to discover that the highway is paved and lighted all the way to Galveston, and thanks to the efforts of this Court’s predecessor, Judge Roy Bean, the trip should be free of rustlers, hooligans, or vicious varmints of unsavory kind. Moreover, the speed limit was recently increased to seventy miles per hour on most of the road leading to Galveston, so Defendant should be able to hurtle to justice at lightning speed. . . . Alas, this Court’s kingdom for a commercial airport! FN2 The Court is unpersuaded by this argument because it is not this Court’s concern how Plaintiff gets here, whether it be by plane, train, automobile, horseback, foot, or on the back of a huge Texas jackrabbit, as long as Plaintiff is here at the proper date and time.”

FN1. “The sun is ‘rize, the sun is set, and we is still in Texas yet!”

FN2. Defendant will again be pleased to know that regular limousine service is available from Hobby Airport, even to the steps of this humble courthouse, which has got lights, indoor plummin’, ‘lectric doors, and all sorts of new stuff, almost like them big courthouses back East.

AbovetheLaw also includes the venerable Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp., 147 F. Supp. 2d 668 (S.D. Tex. 2001) which is delightful for several other reasons, but continues to hold my fascination through the world’s single greatest use of a case parenthetical.

Plaintiff also neglects to provide any analysis whatsoever of why his claim versus Defendant Phillips is a maritime action. Instead, Plaintiff “cites” to a single case from the Fourth Circuit. Plaintiff’s citation, however, points to a nonexistent Volume “1886″ of the Federal Reporter Third Edition and neglects to provide a pinpoint citation for what, after being located, turned out to be a forty-page decision. Ultimately, to the Court’s dismay after reviewing the opinion, it stands simply for the bombshell proposition that torts committed on navigable waters (in this case an alleged defamation committed by the controversial G. Gordon Liddy aboard a cruise ship at sea) require the application of general maritime rather than state tort law. See Wells v. Liddy, 186 F.3d 505, 524 (4th Cir. 1999) (What the ..)?!

Jury Duty

I had jury duty today. It was originally scheduled for February but I rescheduled to fit it in the pathetically short break between our summer and fall semesters. Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m a student so I guess I could claim an exemption, but I didn’t want to get out of it. Far from the typical reluctant juror claiming rampant racism or homophobia to get out of jury duty, I saw it as a rare chance to see things from the other side of the jury box. I thought I might even join the ranks of the blogging jurors sometimes featured in Anne Reed’s Deliberations. Alas, it was not to be.

I spent 4 hours sitting in the juror holding pen, waiting for my number to be called. When it finally was called it was only to tell me that my services would not be needed. Could I come back tomorrow I asked? “Um, no,” I was told by a fairly incredulous officer, “you’re free to go, you got a release.” Sigh. I don’t think there would have been any shortage of volunteers to trade places among the 50 or so people who went ahead of me. Oh well.

Law of Climate Change Getting Interesting – Practice Area Gains Adherents

As the National Law Journal noted in March in A Climate Change in Classroom: Houston law school offers class on ‘climate change litigation’ – there was a course in climate change litigation taught this spring:

Houston Law Center is offering its course for the first time this semester. It is co-taught by Stephen Susman, a partner at Houston’s Susman Godfrey, and by Tracy Hester, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani, also in Houston. Susman, generally a plaintiffs lawyer, covers the litigation side, while Hester focuses on regulation issues, Hester said.

According to recent news reports it seems to be on it’s way to becoming the hot new practice area. Susman, who co-taught the course, sees big rewards for lawyers willing to pioneer the territory, “I can’t say for sure it’s going to be as big as the tobacco settlements, but then again it may even be bigger.”

Not everyone agrees, of course. The comments of the WSJ Law Blog: Climate-Related Legal Work Heats Up are worth wading through, just don’t breathe too deeply.

Judging from the swelling ranks of departments it’s a trend a lot of big firms judge worth following, or at least too risky to be left out of. The Dallas Morning News reports that Thompson & Knight and Vinson & Elkins have both started climate-change practices. According to the paper Susman may have already found a client to test out the idea.

Now he’s among several lawyers talking with a group of Inuits in northern Canada who have seen an entire island sink under rising seas from global warming. The tribe is weighing its options, including suing carbon-emitting corporations such as power companies for heating the planet, he said.

Where would you rather practice? Texas or New York

Yankees are casting dispersions aspersions on our fair Republic, er… state rather, at Simple Justice. (via Defending People and A Public Defender)

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