Most employees are familiar with annual performance reviews. They may be subjected to one or they may conduct some.

The point of the exercise is to determine how much progress has been made toward goals set at the beginning of the year – and to establish new goals for the year ahead.

A similar exercise is the annual State of the State address, during which Gov. Rick Perry assesses the progress he and the Legislature have made toward goals set the previous year, and outlines their future objectives.

As sovereign citizens of Texas, we should conduct our own annual reviews of the state of our state -- using the governor's address as a starting point, perhaps, but taking advantage of other resources to make our assessments.

A particularly good resource is the American Tort Reform Foundation's annual report on "Judicial Hellholes."

As with most performance reviews, there are achievements to be noted and applauded, as well as problems to be acknowledged and addressed.

Our new "loser pays" and anti-barratry laws are two of the noteworthy achievements of the past year, according to the Foundation's report. Gov. Perry and the Legislature deserve praise for these accomplishments which continue a longstanding campaign to make Texas an even more friendly place to do business.

On the down side is the transformation of our Eastern District federal courts into what the Foundation calls the "Center of the Patent Litigation Universe."

In 2002, only 32 patent cases were filed in Eastern Texas. By 2010, there were 299 filings.

The Foundation warns that patent litigation "threatens some of America's most innovative job creators and financial service providers."

To sum up: Our state has made significant progress on the tort reform front, but patent litigation is a problem area needing change and reform. Let's make that a goal for 2012.

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