My much more esteemed colleagues at the Texas Appellate Law Blog and SCOTX Blog have each noted their insights and thoughts regarding the proposed changes to the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure (TRAP), and the Texas Rules of Judicial Administration (RJA), but two proposed rules in particular struck my fancy because they address two of the quirkiest oddities formerly extant in current Texas appellate practice: TRAP 41.3 and RJA 15.
TRAP 41.3 addresses the jurisprudential quandary created by cases transferred via docket equalization from one appellate district to another. See TEX GOV’T CODE ANN. § 73.001 (Vernon 2005). It mandates that the law of the transferor appellate court becomes the law of the case in the transferee appellate court.
RJA 15 addresses concurrent appeals taken from the same trial court (a problem wholly created by the Legislature), which happens to reside in more than one appellate district. Under the amendments, these dueling appeals must now be consolidated and then assigned to one appellate district by random drawing. It is interesting to note that RJA 15.4(b) provides explicit instructions for the court clerk regarding the manner of the drawing:
[T[he clerk shall write the numbers of the two courts of appeals on identical slips of paper and place the slips in a container folded in half or otherwise arranged so that the numbers are completely hidden from view[, and] [t]he trial court clerk shall draw a number from the container at random, in a public place, and shall assign the case to the court of appeals for the corresponding number drawn.
Both of these issues were studied at length and with great skill in South Texas College of Law Professor Andrew Solomon‘s 2006 St. Mary’s Law Journal article, which I highly recommend to your attention. See Andrew T. Solomon, A Simple Prescription for Texas’s Ailing Court System: Stronger Stare Decisis, 37 ST. MARY’S L.J. 417, 450-65 (2006).