Proposed State Bill Requires Expedited Appeals

House Bill 3032, sponsored by Representative Ana Hernandez, would require the Texas Supreme Court to adopt rules for “the prompt, efficient, and cost-effective resolution of an appeal in a civil action.” As drafted, the bill would require all courts of appeals and the Texas Supreme Court to issue a ruling within one year of an appeal being perfected for a final matter, and within three months for expedited or interlocutory appeals. If the appellate court does not issue a ruling within the deadline, the lower court’s decision would automatically be affirmed.

The Alliance for Texas Families, a non-profit group that advocates for middle- and low-income families, helped lobby for the bill, arguing that Texas residents with lower incomes often cannot afford to wait out the long appeal process. Honorable Wallace Jefferson, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, has voiced his concerns about the bill, arguing that the bill would arbitrarily uphold decisions that could be incorrect if the appellate court did not issue a timely ruling.

The bill comes at an interesting time, as the Texas Supreme Court just approved rules for expedited civil jury trials—rules that were opposed by both the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the Texas Association of Defense Counsel. House Bill 3032 was filed on March 7, 2013 in the House; no votes are currently scheduled for the bill. The proposed text would give the Texas Supreme Court until May 1, 2014 to adopt rules to conform with the requirements.

This column is published for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual partners.

 

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