A unique Texas legal rule lets the attorney general’s office supersede some judges’ orders
Lawyers criticize a provision they say erodes the separation of powers between Texas’ executive branch and its courts. It’s been used repeatedly this year as Texans try to block new state laws from going into effect
Texas high court allows law banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors to take effect
The Texas Supreme Court will allow the new state law banning gender-affirming care for minors to take effect on Friday, setting up Texas to be the most populous state with such restrictions on transgender children.
Texas Supreme Court lets state law eliminating Harris County elections chief stand, for now
The ruling means the November elections in the state’s largest county will be overseen by two other county officials. Legislators targeted Harris County’s elections department after taking issue with the way the 2022 elections were run.
Ken Paxton’s whistleblowers ask Texas Supreme Court to take up their case as $3.3 million settlement in jeopardy
Lawyers for four former employees who accused the attorney general of firing them for reporting alleged crimes to authorities say Paxton won’t agree to finalizing the deadline by the end of this legislative session.
Texas executes Robert Fratta after high courts reject challenges to expired lethal injection drugs
Fratta was convicted in the 1994 murder-for-hire of his wife. Lawyers unsuccessfully challenged Texas’ routine of extending the expiration dates of its lethal drugs, a practice begun when many pharmacies began refusing to provide doses for executions.
Texas Supreme Court says it can’t force the state to process deluge of applications for tax break expiring this year
The program, known as Chapter 313, provides companies with billions of dollars in property tax breaks. The court said it is up to the Legislature to make the call on what to do as the program is set to expire and the state is swamped with applications.
Texas Supreme Court weighs whether to allow state’s education agency to oust Houston school board
Among other issues, the court will consider whether a law that updated the education code last year has any bearing on TEA Commissioner Mike Morath’s attempt to replace HISD’s board members over low academic scores.
Republican effort to remove Libertarians from November ballot rejected by Texas Supreme Court
On Aug. 8, a group of Republican candidates asked the Supreme Court to remove 23 Libertarian opponents from the ballot, saying they did not meet eligibility requirements. The Republicans included Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and others in congressional and state legislative races.
Volkswagen argues that Greg Abbott’s choice of judges in lawsuit could tilt emissions case in Texas’ favor
Because the state is a party in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s cases against the companies, Volkswagen lawyers have argued that allowing the Texas governor to appoint justices to a case for which the state stands to win a substantial amount of money would give “the impression that the State has had undue influence.”
For third time in recent years, U.S. Supreme Court halts a Texas execution over rules for religious advisers in the death chamber
John Ramirez was scheduled to die Wednesday. His last request to the state had been to let his pastor hold on to him as he died, something the state denied. The high court wants to hear oral arguments on the matter later this year.
Live COVID-19 updates: Texas’ back-to-school season marked by mask mandate battles, rural districts’ closures
COVID-19 is surging again in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott has tested positive. Hospitalizations are increasing faster than at any other time. Local officials and school leaders are rebelling against Abbott’s ban on mask mandates. Here’s the latest.
Texas Supreme Court temporarily allows school mask mandates to remain
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Gov. Greg Abbott wanted the high court to disallow mask mandates in Texas school districts. Justices dismissed their request on a technicality, without issuing a ruling on their legal arguments.
Texas Supreme Court says House Democrats can be arrested and brought to the Capitol, siding with Republicans trying to secure a quorum
In a bid to block a voting restrictions bill, House Democrats for weeks have denied the lower chamber the number of present members needed to pass legislation. House Speaker Dade Phelan has already signed dozens of civil arrest warrants.
SAISD issues mask mandate for students, staff; vaccine mandate for staff
Students and staff in the San Antonio Independent School District will be required to wear masks, effective immediately. In addition, staff will be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. Both mandates were issued Monday by Superintendent Pedro Martinez.
Live COVID-19 updates: Texas sending more relief medical workers to hospitals, adding new antibody infusion centers
COVID-19 is surging again in Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott has tested positive. Hospitalizations are increasing faster than at any other time. Local officials and school leaders are rebelling against Abbott’s ban on mask mandates. Here’s the latest.
GOP leaders say they’ve secured an extra month of funding for Texas Legislature to plug money vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott
Funds amounting to at least $12.6 million will be transferred from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to the Senate, the House, and legislative agencies such as the LBB, the Legislative Council and the Legislative Reference Library.
As federal eviction moratorium expires, tenants and rent advocates scramble to obtain state and local rental relief funds
In the first phase of funding from the federal government for emergency rental assistance, Texas received about $2 billion. Now the state has to get those funds in the hands of Texans.
Texas Supreme Court may decide next plot twist in the Democratic walkout, and the fate of 2,100 state employees
The state’s highest civil court has been asked to decide if Gov. Greg Abbott has the power to cut off funding for legislative staff, a move Abbott hoped would keep Democratic lawmakers from leaving the state and shutting down a special legislative session.
Academy sports chain can't be sued for selling gun used in Texas' deadliest mass shooting, state Supreme Court says
The gunman should not have been able to purchase an assault style rifle, but the store conducted the required federal background check, which didn't reveal his past assault conviction, the court said.
The Texas Senate has approved a new statewide appeals court. Critics contend it's another attempt to limit Democrats' power.
‘We don’t want jury service to be a death sentence,’ Bexar County administrative judge says
”We don’t want jury service to be a death sentence for any jurors or any participants in the court process,” Rangel said. The latest Texas Supreme Court order issued Friday gives individual authority to local administrative judges. AdThe Texas Supreme Court emergency order expires June 1. “Maybe if it’s not extended, those minimum safety protocols would not be required to enter into the courthouse,” Rangel said. But he said that for now the protocols will remain in place in all Bexar County courtrooms.
Texas courts cleared for in-person trials, and local officials will decide whether to require face masks
Texas courthouses no longer need a state safety review before conducting in-person hearings, including jury trials. AdIn the year of the pandemic, much of the state court system has been put on pause, creating a backlog of cases that will likely take years to overcome. In 2019, there was an average of 186 civil and criminal jury trials per week, according to the Texas Office of Court Administration. From March 2020 through this January, there were 222 jury trials total. But Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association President Grant Scheiner asked judges to remain vigilant in hopes of preventing another surge of coronavirus infections.
Bench trials an option to address case backlog in Bexar County courts
SAN ANTONIO – As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches one year, the resulting backlog of cases in the Bexar County Criminal Justice System continues to grow since an emergency order from the Texas Supreme Court prohibits in-person jury trials. One option available to both the state and the defense to resolve cases is a bench trial in which a judge serves as both the judge and jury. “I think most judges would prefer to have bench trials during this pandemic.”J. Charles Bunk, a seasoned criminal defense attorney who has also served as a prosecutor for over a dozen years, has been involved in bench trials on both the defense and prosecution. An agreement from the state and the defense is necessary for a bench trial to be conducted. RELATED: In-person jury trials in Bexar County delayed until at least April 1
In-person jury trials in Bexar County delayed until at least April 1
SAN ANTONIO – Citing an emergency order from the Texas Supreme Court, Local Administrative Judge Ron Rangel has ordered that there will be no in-person civil or criminal jury trials in Bexar County until April 1 at the earliest. Rangel ordered a moratorium on jury trials due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in March when the COVID-19 pandemic started. With the moratorium in place, judges soon began to worry about case backlogs in their courts. Jury selection in his case was suspended in November due to Covid-19 health concerns. Rangel said, “Once we seat a jury I do not anticipate starting that jury trial until health conditions permit, and I don’t see that happening for awhile.”
Despite committee’s recommendation, ending Texas’ partisan judicial elections looks unlikely
The Texas Supreme Court on Jan. 15, 2020. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas TribuneTexas looks unlikely to change its controversial partisan election system for judges — even after a commission studying the issue recommended ending the practice. And in Republican primaries, judicial candidates with Hispanic-sounding surnames have often fared poorly, owing, experts say, to a largely white electorate. Those who favor partisan judicial elections have pointed out that they may work better in rural counties, where voters are electing fewer judges and it’s easier to learn their qualifications. Aside from the bias of partisanship, one of the chief concerns about the state’s partisan judicial selection system is the influence — perceived or actual — of donors who bankroll judges’ campaigns. Huffman, a powerful figure in the Texas Senate, said earlier this month she had already begun drafting a constitutional amendment that would increase judicial qualifications.
Texas extends rental assistance program designed to avoid evictions until March 15
The Texas Supreme Court has extended its emergency eviction relief program for tenants behind on rent through at least March 15, lengthening the program’s expiration date by a month and a half. The move comes after Congress passed a stimulus bill Monday extending the federal moratorium on evictions through the end of January. The state created the Texas Eviction Diversion Program earlier this fall with the help of $171 million in CARES Act funding, the vast majority designated for rental assistance. But some housing advocates said the extension doesn’t go far enough to address the large number of struggling renters, even as the federal government extended its eviction moratorium. "There could be tens of thousands of evictions on the horizon in Texas later this winter,” said Michael Depland, spokesperson for the advocacy group, Texas Housers.
Texas Supreme Court rules Alfred Dewayne Brown be compensated for his wrongful imprisonment
The Texas Supreme Court on Jan. 15, 2020. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas TribuneSign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. More than five years after he was freed from Texas’ death row and nearly two years after prosecutors declared him innocent, the Texas Supreme Court ordered Friday that Alfred Dewayne Brown finally be compensated for his wrongful imprisonment. In 2015, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals tossed out Brown’s conviction and death sentence in the 2003 murder of a Houston police officer. But the Texas Comptroller, after receiving advice from the Texas Attorney General, denied Brown’s claim for the money. But Brown’s attorneys argued to the Texas Supreme Court, and the justices agreed, that the comptroller exceeded his authority by making such judicial determinations.
Federal judge rejects efforts by GOP activists to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes in Houston
HOUSTON (AP) – A federal judge on Monday rejected another last-ditch Republican effort to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes in Houston because the ballots were cast at drive-thru polling centers established during the pandemic. The lawsuit was brought by conservative Texas activists who have railed against expanded voting access in Harris County, where a record 1.4 million early votes have already been cast. Another 20,000 or more voters were expected to use drive-thru polling locations Tuesday, said Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, the county’s top elections official. Harris County offered 10 drive-thru locations as an option for its nearly 5 million residents amid worries of spreading the coronavirus. The Texas Supreme Court, which is controlled entirely by Republicans, rejected an identical lawsuit last month and on Sunday refused to invalidate the votes already cast.
Judge rejects GOP effort to throw out 127,000 Houston votes
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)HOUSTON – A federal judge on Monday rejected another last-ditch Republican effort to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes in Houston because the ballots were cast at drive-thru polling centers established during the pandemic. Another 20,000 or more voters had been expected to use drive-thru polling locations Tuesday, Hollins said earlier Monday. “I cannot in good faith encourage voters to cast their votes in tents if that puts their votes at risk,” he said. Harris County offered 10 drive-thru locations as an option for its nearly 5 million residents amid worries of spreading the coronavirus. More than 40% of Harris County residents are Latino, and about one in five residents are Black.
Texas Supreme Court rejects Republican-led effort to throw out nearly 127,000 Harris County votes
A rejection of the votes would constitute a monumental disenfranchisement of voters — drive-thru ballots account for about 10% of all in-person ballots cast during early voting in Harris County. The clerk’s filing with the Supreme Court in the earlier lawsuit also said the Texas secretary of state’s office had approved of drive-thru voting. Since the first Republican challenge to drive-thru voting was filed on Oct. 12, the Texas secretary of state and Gov. Greg Abbott had both ignored requests from reporters and Harris County officials to clarify their positions on whether the process was legal. The county clerk's office countered that the first challenge to drive-thru voting had already been denied, and the second filing came much too late.
Texas Supreme Court backs Abbott on limiting ballot drops
AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday vacated a state court injunction against Gov. The lower-court order had been upheld by the Austin-based 3rd Texas Court of Appeals. The high-court court ruling upholds a restriction Abbott imposed on Oct. 1, just before early voting in the Nov. 3 general election was to open. The Republican said the restriction was needed to ensure election security, but Democrats blasted it as a naked effort to suppress voters. Circuit Court of Appeals already had reinstated the limit on Oct. 12 in a separate case, staying a federal judge’s ruling that had blocked its implementation.
Texas counties will only be allowed one drop-off location for mail-in ballots, state Supreme Court rules
In what’s expected to be the final ruling on the matter, the Texas Supreme Court has upheld Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting Texas counties to only one drop-off location for voters to hand deliver their absentee ballots during the pandemic. In their opinion, the justices wrote that Abbott's order "provides Texas voters more ways to vote in the November 3 election than does the Election Code. The Texas Supreme Court has kept Texas’ limitations on mail-in voting, but allowed drive-thru voting in Harris County to continue. In typical elections, Texas voters who wish to deliver their absentee ballots in person can only do so on Election Day.
Pointing to pandemic and election controversies, Democrats make their case for Texas Supreme Court
It’s notoriously difficult for judicial candidates, even those running for the state’s high courts, to capture voters’ attention. Voters have the chance to choose four justices on the nine-member Texas Supreme Court, the state’s highest court for civil matters, and three judges on its sister body, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. This year, though, the Texas Supreme Court has found itself in the spotlight far more than usual with major coronavirus-related decisions and an unusually long list of election-related cases. “Once again, the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court steps into this election against the interests of voters and a functioning democracy,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said after the Harris County decision. The nation’s high court again overturned the Texas court’s decision, and Moore has since been resentenced to life in prison and released on parole.
Voters in Harris County may continue using drive-thru voting, Texas Supreme Court rules
By Wednesday, more than 73,000 people in Harris County had voted at drive-thru polling places, according to the clerk’s early voting totals. They claimed drive-thru voting is an expansion of curbside voting, and therefore should only be available for disabled voters. Such applications are required for mail-in ballots, but voting rights advocates and the Harris County Clerk said they have never been a part of curbside voting. The clerk’s filing to the Supreme Court also said the Texas secretary of state’s Office had approved of drive-thru voting. The state Republican Party quickly moved to the Supreme Court, and a sister suit was filed by a litigious Houston conservative and the Harris County Republican Party.
Texas high court blocks Houston plan to offer mail ballots
AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that 2 million Houston voters cannot receive unsolicited mail ballot applications from local elections officials who are dramatically expanding ways to vote in November in the nation's third-largest county, a key battleground in Texas. Texas is one of just five states not allowing widespread mail-in voting this year. Mail voting in Texas is generally limited to voters who are 65 years old or older, or who have a disability. “Once again, the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court steps into this election against the interests of voters and a functioning democracy,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. Houston is a stronghold for Democrats, but the surrounding county still includes GOP-held seats that are helping keep Republicans in power in Texas.
Texas Supreme Court order OKs virtual jury trials
SAN ANTONIO – In the Texas Supreme Court’s most recent order addressing jury trials during the pandemic, it said virtual civil court jury trials can be conducted starting Oct. 1. “Courts can compel attorneys for both sides, whether they agree or not, to have a virtual jury trial,” Local Administrative Judge Ron Rangel said, referring to the order Monday. He said that he questions virtual trials, period. In his order, which he is drafting this week, Rangel said he has moved the date for virtual jury trials in Bexar County to begin on Nov. 1. Rangel plans to present his local order to the judges, as well as Regional Administrative Judge Sid Harle by week’s end.
Texas courts must start telling tenants how a federal eviction moratorium can keep them housed
The Texas Supreme Court signed an order clarifying the federal eviction moratorium. Texans facing an eviction must be informed in court citations about how they can remain housed under a national eviction moratorium, the Texas Supreme Court ordered Thursday. Under the declaration, tenants also agree that they will pay rent eventually, as well as fees and penalties according to their leases or agreements with the landlord. On Sept. 9, the Texas Justice Court Training Center provided guidance for justices of peace, but advocates said that tenants still had trouble benefiting from the moratorium. “With this order of the Supreme Court, it makes it very clear that the court must abate these situations.”The Texas Supreme Court order also allows landlords to contest the declaration of the tenant.
Texans with disabilities are eligible for mail-in voting, but people must decide for themselves if they qualify
The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that a lack of immunity to the coronavirus is not in itself enough to qualify. During a typical year, Texas is one of only 16 states that doesn’t offer no-excuse mail-in voting, which allows voters to request ballots for any reason. Local election officials, who oversee the distribution of mail-in ballots, do not have the authority to verify a voter’s disability status. But election experts say it’s unclear whether the Texas attorney general’s office would try to pursue the issue. Disability rights activists say they’re worried the confusion may deter at-risk Texans from voting, or cause them to needlessly put their health at risk to show up in person at the polls despite being eligible for mail-in voting.
Texas Supreme Court again blocks Harris County from sending mail-in ballot applications to all voters
The Texas Supreme Court granted the Texas attorney general’s request to halt the county’s effort just before a separate order blocking the mailing was set to end. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas TribuneThe Texas Supreme Court has once again blocked Harris County from sending mail-in ballot applications to all its 2.4 million registered voters ahead of the November election. The all-Republican court told Harris County to hold off on sending any unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots “until further order” and while the case makes its way through the appeals process. Paxton kicked the request up to the Supreme Court after the appeals court declined his request to block the lower court's ruling and instead set an expedited schedule to consider the appeal. The order in the Harris County case was the second issued by the Supreme Court on Tuesday that affects mail-in voting procedures.
Texas Supreme Court rules 3 Green Party candidates should be added back to November ballot
T-shirts for sale at the Green Party convention in Houston in 2016. Credit: Michael Stravato for The Texas TribuneThe Texas Supreme Court has ordered three Green Party candidates to be restored to the November ballot after Democrats successfully sued to remove them. The Texas Green Party appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, which ruled Tuesday that the secretary of state “shall immediately take all necessary actions to ensure these candidates appear on the” November ballot. The Supreme Court did not give its rationale, but said a full opinion was forthcoming. In rejecting the GOP effort earlier this month, the Supreme Court said the party waited too long to raise the issue. The state’s most populous county, Harris County, wrote to the Supreme Court on Monday saying that “it is too late to make changes,” even if the court acted that day.
Analysis: In close elections, two opponents can be better than one
The all-Republican court rejected a Republican effort to erase 44 Libertarian candidates from the ballot. The theory operating here is that Libertarian candidates siphon more votes from Republicans than from Democrats. A related bit of political folklore is that Green Party candidates take votes that would otherwise go to Democrats. State Rep. Gina Calanni, a Democrat, beat a Republican incumbent by 113 votes in a 2018 race in which a Libertarian got 1,106 votes. For instance, state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, won reelection by 1,428 votes; the Libertarian in his race got 1,644 votes.
Texas Supreme Court rejects Republicans' attempt to remove 44 Libertarians from the November ballot
But the Supreme Court dismissed the suit, finding that the Republicans missed the August 21 deadline to successfully boot people from the ballot. The available mechanism for seeking the Libertarians removal from the ballot for failure to pay the filing fee was a declaration of ineligibility, the court wrote in a per curiam opinion. In general, Libertarians are believed to peel votes away from Republicans, while the Green Party is thought to siphon votes from Democrats. In multiple cases citing the same lack of a filing fee paid, state and national Democrats were successful in removing some Green Party candidates. The Supreme Court suggested that at least some Libertarians may have made the same mistake, but said the GOP was too late in bringing its legal challenge forward.
H-E-B owner Charles Butt writes court in support of sending mail ballot applications to registered voters
SAN ANTONIO In a rare move for Charles Butt, the San Antonio-based grocery chain owner wrote to the Texas Supreme Court in support of Harris Countys plan to send vote-by-mail applications to all its voters. Harris County is in the middle of legal challenges over its plan to send applications for mail-in ballots to registered voters 65 and older. Voters who receive the applications would still need to verify their information and send them in to election administrators to receive the actual ballot. On Wednesday, the Texas Supreme Court paused Harris Countys plans while lower courts decide on the case. In his letter, Butt commends the plan, which was led by Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, arguing that the plan is permissible under election code.
Analysis: Voting in Texas could be as easy as a trip to the grocery store
The latest Texas battlefield is in the states biggest county, where state officials are working to stop Harris County officials from sending unsolicited applications for absentee ballots to all voters. While the lawyers argue, voters can always ask for their own absentee voting applications, decide whether they qualify to vote by mail, and proceed accordingly. Thats the argument Trump has adopted that election fraud is easier when voting by mail is the method. Texas already has limited absentee voting; the question is whether its open to everyone or not. Butt likened Harris Countys plan to distribute absentee applications to his companys response to the pandemic: allowing pickup orders and expanding home deliveries.
Bexar County voters 65 and older will be sent vote-by-mail applications later this month
SAN ANTONIO Following a recent Bexar County Court Commissioners meeting, the Bexar County Elections Department is preparing to send vote-by-mail application to all voters 65 or older. The Bexar County Commissioners Court directed officials to proactively mail the application to eligible voters during a meeting on Aug. 18. During the COVID-19 briefing later that day, Wolff said that there are roughly 250,000 voters age 65 or older in the county. Bexar Countys decision to send applications ahead of the election comes as the Harris County GOP and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton challenged Harris County Clerk Chris Collins in court over a similar plan. Collins initially announced he would send applications to every registered voter in Harris County, before narrowing it down to voters 65 or older.
Texas Supreme Court temporarily blocks Harris County from sending mail-in ballot applications to all its voters
The Texas Supreme Court has temporarily blocked Harris County from sending mail-in ballot applications to all its voters for the November election. Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins announced last month that the county would send applications to its more than 2.4 million registered voters, an effort to make it easier to participate in the election during the coronavirus pandemic. In June, ahead of the July primary runoff, Hollins office sent out roughly 380,000 mail-in ballot applications to voters over 65, a spokesperson said. The uproar over the Harris County plan is the latest front in the battle over mail-in voting during the pandemic in Texas. Our offices top priority is to protect the right to vote and, during the time of COVID-19, to ensure that Harris County voters can cast their ballots safely, Hollins said.
USPS warns Texas that some mail-in ballots may be delayed in November
Credit: John Jordan/The Texas TribuneSign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. Postal Service has warned Texas officials that some ballots cast by mail may not arrive in time to be counted for the November election thanks to certain state deadlines for mail-in ballots being incompatible with its delivery standards. It is unclear how many Texas voters may be affected should such delays occur. In Texas July 14 primary runoff elections, some hopeful voters who submitted their applications for mail-in voting on time indicated they never received their ballots. Other voters received their mail-in ballots and sent them in to be counted, only to have them returned unopened.
Timing of Supreme Court justices retirement allows Gov. Greg. Abbott, not voters, to pick his two-year replacement
Emree Weaver/The Texas Tribune The Texas TribunePaul Green, a Republican Texas Supreme Court justice of 15 years, said this week that he is retiring from the high court Aug. 31. But if he left office just 10 days sooner, his vacancy would be filled by voters in the November general election. Greg Abbott can hand-pick Greens replacement, who will hold the seat for up to two years, depending on the timing of the appointment, until the states next general election. If Greens replacement is not on this years ballot, the next general election will be in November 2022. Green purposely timed his resignation to disenfranchise Texans and not let them choose their next Texas Supreme Court Justice.
Texas Supreme Court Justice Paul Green says he will retire at the end of August after 15 years on the bench
Justice Paul Green hears arguments at the Texas Supreme Court in 2019. Emree Weaver/The Texas TribuneAfter 15 years as a member of Texas Supreme Court, Republican Justice Paul W. Green said he will retire in August almost two and a half years before his term was set to end. Green is the courts second in seniority and his successor will be chosen by Gov. He has consistently provided steady, insightful and wise counsel to his colleagues and to the judiciary and certainly to me in his role for the past seven years as senior justice, Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht said in a statement. The San Antonio native was reelected in 2016, and his current term ends December 31, 2022.
Court refuses to order Houston to host Texas GOP gathering
HOUSTON The Texas Supreme Court on Monday upheld Houston's refusal to allow the state Republican convention to hold in-person events in the city due to the coronavirus pandemic. The court dismissed an appeal of a state district judges denial of a temporary restraining order sought by the state Republican Party. The state GOP convention had been scheduled to begin Thursday at Houstons downtown convention center and was expected to draw thousands of participants. The Texas Medical Association withdrew its sponsorship of the state GOP convention and asked organizers to cancel in-person gatherings. But state Republican chair James Dickey has insisted that organizers can hold the event safely.
Texas Supreme Court denies Texas GOP's appeal to hold in-person convention this week in Houston
The Texas Republican Convention in Fort Worth in 2012. Bob Daemmrich for The Texas TribuneThe Texas Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by the Republican Party of Texas seeking to host its in-person convention this week in Houston. Justices also denied a similar petition spearheaded by other party officials and Houston activist Steve Hotze. Last week, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner directed the city's legal department to work with Houston First Corp., the operator of the convention center, to review its contract with the party. A Harris County judge denied a request by the party that would have let them proceed with the convention, and, soon after, the party said it would file an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.
Bar exam for Texas' aspiring lawyers canceled in July due to coronavirus concerns
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas TribuneAfter urging from Texas law school deans and aspiring lawyers, the Texas Supreme Court on Friday canceled the two-day in-person bar exams scheduled for later this month, citing growing concerns about COVID-19. The July exam, which was to bring more than 1,000 people into testing centers across the state, was canceled a day after Texas Gov. Students generally spend 350 to 500 hours studying in the months leading up to the exam and graduate with an average of $107,000 in loans for law school, according to a letter from the 10 Texas law school deans. July or September applicants can change their application to the February 2021 bar exam for free. Before canceling the exam, the court approved shortening the July test and authorized the special September date to reduce the number of bar exam-takers.
Upcoming Texas bar exam has law students, deans asking for in-person testing to be scrapped
But with the coronavirus raging, the planned safety measures "no longer seem sufficient," the deans of all 10 Texas law schools wrote in a recent letter to the examining board. Meanwhile, a group of law students called Future Texas Attorneys has gathered more than 2,200 signatures on a petition asking the court to grant diploma privilege to law students so they can get on with their careers. July bar exam candidates face a twofold dilemma: the health risks of taking the exam in-person, and knowing any delay may cost them jobs or create professional challenges down the road. She says she needs to start working again, pay off law school loans and find a new health insurance provider in the fall. The money we had in May, that's been slowly depleting.Matthew Hines, another July bar exam candidate, said COVID-19 is all he can think about while he studies for the exam every day.
Plaintiffs fold hand in Texas state court lawsuit seeking expansion of voting by mail during coronavirus
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas TribuneThe fight over expanding voting by mail in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic appears to be coming to an end in state courts, but a lawsuit continues at the federal level. The Texas Supreme Court then put it on hold. But in a separate case, the state Supreme Court last month ruled that a lack of immunity to the virus alone does not meet the states qualifications for voting by mail. Before the Supreme Court, the state ultimately conceded that officials can't reject those voters. Its possible the issue will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court after the runoffs.
Rejecting appeal, Texas Supreme Court blocks Austin's paid sick leave ordinance
The Texas Supreme Court on Jan. 15, 2020. The ordinance which required most private employers to allow workers to accrue 64 hours of paid sick leave per year never went into effect, and has been in conservative crosshairs for more than two years. During the 2019 legislative session, Texas Republicans proposed a state law that would have prevented cities from requiring paid sick leave protections. San Antonio and Dallas have also passed paid sick leave ordinances, though San Antonios never went into effect amid a similar legal challenge. "Todays denial by the Texas Supreme Court is a clear signal that cities across Texas should withdraw these unconstitutional ordinances."