It's time for East Texas to clean up its act

Record Admin Sep. 14, 2015, 12:47pm


There's one in almost every family: a black sheep, the one sibling or cousin who has to be different, can't follow the rules, keeps making the same mistakes, and is forever getting into trouble and embarrassing his relatives.

There are communities like that, too – cities, states, and nations that habitually misbehave.

We have a black sheep in our state, a jurisdiction that persists in bringing disrepute upon itself and all the rest of us: East Texas.

For years, our entire state was labeled a judicial hellhole, but we committed ourselves to reform, made necessary changes, and, over time, moved from the Hellhole list to the Watch list and, finally, off the lists altogether.

A while back, we were cited as one of 14 states enacting “significant, positive civil justice reforms.” We were even recognized as a “Point of Light,” a model for other states to follow.

Still, there was that black sheep, the persistent problem of our Eastern District and its continuing status as “the most popular venue for patent trolls.”

Now comes a survey from the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform evaluating the fairness and reasonableness of state liability systems. Conducted by Harris Poll and relying on a national sample of 1,203 in-house general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives at companies with at least $100 million in annual revenues, the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey confirms that East Texas is the worst local jurisdiction in the United States.

The problems in East Texas have had an adverse effect on our state's status. We're currently ranked as the state with the 40th best liability system, down from 36th in 2012. If not for the shenanigans in East Texas, our ranking then and now would have been much better.

A good lawsuit climate attracts business and leads to prosperity. A bad one does the opposite. The foolishness in East Texas is hurting all of us. How long will we tolerate it?

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