Southeast Texas Record Mar. 31, 2015, 8:30am


It's not an unreasonable expectation. Sam's Club, the YMCA, and the community pool all insist on it.

“Are you a member?” That's what they ask, if you're a new face and they haven't seen you before.

Say yes and they may ask to see your ID or look your name up in the membership rolls. Say no and they may invite you to become one, but they won't let you enjoy the privileges of membership until you do.

Of course, if you're a regular and everybody knows you, they'll just wave you in or pay you no mind at all. But non-members and anyone unfamiliar are going to get stopped and have their membership verified or be turned away.

Our Texas courts are no different, or shouldn't be. They're like a club for Texans who need things adjudicated. If you want to use our courts, you should be a member, i.e., a resident of our state.

It's not like it's hard to become a member. All you have to do is live here, and people are relocating all the time. According to the most recent Census, we've got more than 25 million “members” already, four million of whom are “new,” having come here during the decade ending in 2010.

State  Rep. Kenneth Sheets of Dallas has introduced a bill to protect the right of Texas residents to enjoy access to our courts, in preference to out-of-state plaintiffs.

House Bill 1692 would close a loophole for out-of-state plaintiffs that was created last year by an unfortunate State Supreme Court ruling. It would amend the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code so that “the plaintiff’s choice of a forum in this state shall be given substantial deference, provided that the plaintiff is a legal resident of the state and the underlying litigation has a significant connection to this state.”

It's our club and we make the rules. HB 1692 should be one of them.

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