New courtroom!

The Fifth Court’s website reports: “On January 30, 2018, the Fifth Court of Appeals held inaugural oral arguments in the historic Dallas County Merrill Hartman Courtroom located on the 8th Floor of the George Allen Sr. Courts Building [right]. Thanks to a joint effort between the Dallas County Commissioners, the Dallas District Courts, and the Fifth Court of Appeals, the Merrill Hartman Courtroom’s judicial bench was redesigned to accommodate the 13 appellate court justices in en banc settings as well as 3 member panels. The Fifth Court of Appeals also serves as the disaster recovery site for the nine member Texas Supreme Court. Both appellate courts, and district courts will utilize the courtroom. Upon final completion of renovations, a re-dedication ceremony is planned on a date to be determined in April 2018.”

Third time was not the charm.

B.C. v. Steak & Shake involved a late-filed summary judgment response. The unsuccessful appellant sought rehearing en banc, which led to another opinion. Among other matters, the Court declined to consider a “supplemental clerk’s record” containing information about the logistics of the filing, when that material was not before the trial court or the Fifth Court at the time of its opinion. The Court quoted Chief Justice Hecht’s statement on the general subject in Worthy v. Collagen Corp., 967 S.W.2d 360, 366 Tex. 1998): “Supplementation of the record after a case is decided is a different matter. It certainly does not serve judicial economy for the appellate court to allow a supplementation of the record that would require it to reconsider its decision on the merits when the party has had ample opportunity to correct the omission prior to decision.”  967 S.W.2d 360, 366 (Tex. 1988). No. 05-14-00649-CV (Oct. 27, 2017) (suppl. op. on rehearing).

Pro Bono Opportunities for Federal Appeals –

Of interest to all appellate practitioners, particularly those who may be planning on becoming board certified – the Fifth Circuit describes its newly-created Pro Bono Program as follows. Great opportunity for quality appellate experience!

“The Program assists the Court by facilitating the appointment of pro bono counsel to represent pro se litigants. Pro Bono Panel members will, at the Court’s invitation, be appointed in civil appeals that, for example, present issues of first impression, complex facts or legal questions, or potentially meritorious claims warranting further briefing and/or oral argument.

Pro bono appointments are made by the Court, and are limited to proceedings before this Court. Although oral argument is not guaranteed, cases selected for the Program are likely to meet the Court’s criteria for granting oral argument.

Attorneys wishing to join the Pro Bono Panel should submit to the CMJS Office a cover letter (including statement of types of cases, if any, that counsel prefers or does not prefer), resumé, writing sample (appellate brief or brief of substantive motion), and statement of good standing in the Fifth Circuit Bar. Applications for panel membership should be emailed to the CMJS Office at Questions about the program may be directed to Kate Clark, Administrative Attorney, at that email address or by telephone at 504-310-7799.”

Dallas’s $4 billion back pay dispute heads to trial –

Today’s Dallas Observer has an excellent story about the City of Dallas’s $4 billion back pay dispute with police and firefighters, part of which is set for trial in December 2017 in Collin County. The case involves issues addressed by the Fifth Court in 2002 (yes, 2002) in Arredondo v. City of Dallas, 79 S.W.3d 65 (Tex. App.–Dallas 2002, pet. denied). Specifically, the Court found the word “maintained” to be patently ambiguous as used in this part of a 1978 ordinance: “The current percentage pay differential between grades in the sworn ranks of the Dallas Police Force and the Fire Fighter and Rescue Force shall be maintained.”