HOUSTON – The Texas Supreme Court will not review the top aviation verdict for all of Texas in 2013. The Houston-based law firm Arnold & Itkin secured the judgment, totaling nearly $1.7 million, on behalf of Derek LeBlanc, who was injured in a helicopter crash while on route to work on an oil platform in the Gulf.
The Texas Supreme Court has a unique structure, reflecting the state’s stubbornly independent-minded culture. Most state supreme courts have jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases and have seven (or fewer) members, who are appointed by the governor and face the voters — if at all — only for periodic “retention” elections. The Texas Supreme Court, in contrast, hears only civil appeals (criminal cases are decided by the co-equal Texas Court of Criminal Appeals) and has nine members, all of whom are subject to statewide partisan elections. The last feature is quite unusual; only seven states select judges in this manner. Despite this distinctive design, the Texas Supreme Court succeeds at steering a steady jurisprudential course in a cautious, low-key style.
BEAUMONT – In June 2015, the Ninth Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a now-retired district judge’s decision denying the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission governmental immunity. Two years later, on May 17, the Texas Supreme Court issued a mandate stating that its ruling reversing the Ninth Court is final, confirming Judge Gary Sanderson, formerly of the 60th District Court, was ultimately right in his decision to waive the commission’s immunity.