Is it safe?

I’m not saying today’s trip to the endodontist was anything like Dustin Hoffman’s, but it was close. Complete with bone grafts!

My dinner will be a smoothie. I can’t even drink the smoothie with a straw. This is terrible.

Walking the Line

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

This one’s pretty easy. 

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:12 (KJV)


One of my law schools professors described the Golden Rule as as a universal tenet among the world’s major religions. I’m not so sure about that; I don’t have any real knowledge about world religions. All I know is I’ve improved my happiness and reduced my stress by treating people with dignity and respect. I also tend to get much more accomplished than I would otherwise. Most people I know reciprocate, and I tend to have little time for people who do not. 

I’m not perfect on this score. I’m occasionally prone to losing my temper and lashing out at others.  Most of the time, I lash out not when I’m dealing with some other stress in my life, not because the other person deserves it.  This is wrong.  I need to and can do better. So if I do this to you, or if you see me doing it, please call me out on it. 

I Walk the Line

Well-rounded

I recently attended an insurance industry group conference. My ears perked up when one of the speakers, a CEO of an insurer, discussed the importance of reading about the wider, non-insurance world. I enjoyed hearing someone suggest that there’s a place for those who enjoy learning the outside world. 

Certainly, the legal profession rewards those who live and breathe their work. Within the profession, the trend seems to be for people to focus on a particular niche. I understand the importance of lawyers to become experts on a topic. But it’s foolish to think the legal profession can supply  all of the answers. There’s value to people applying concepts from other disciplines. 

Fat chancery

Will Texas soon create separate chancery courts? With HB 1603, State Rep. Jason Villalba proposes to create a new state system of courts of chancery. The special chancery courts would have concurrent jurisdiction to hear business-oriented lawsuits, such as shareholder disputes, fiduciary duty cases and the like. The bill would also create a special intermediate chancery appellate court. The governor would appoint judges and justices to the respective courts. The courts would sit in Austin/Travis County. On balance, I don’t particularly think the proposed system is a good idea.

To me, the biggest issue with the proposed system is the potential for regulatory capture. I can see the desire to have a court well-versed in the nuance of business disputes hearing those disputes. Corporate governance disputes can be complex.  I suspect that most of the appointed judges and justices—particularly those appointed by a Republican governor–will have a big business background. That isn’t a problem per se, but, I suspect the deck will be somewhat stacked against individual shareholders, directors, or officers, particularly if the same businesses or types of businesses frequently appear before the chancery courts.

Rep. Villalba proposed the chancery courts scheme as a means to promote Texas as a State for businesses to incorporate. I’m not sure there’s much more that Texas can do to promote a more favorable business climate. Texas law already favors businesses vis-à-vis minority shareholders. The Supreme Court of Texas made this abundantly clear with Ritchie v. Rupe. In my experience, the vast majority of trial courts attempt to apply the laws enacted by the Legislature and interpreted by the Supreme Court of Texas. As long as Texas trial courts do this, there shouldn’t be much practical difference in justice dispensed by a chancery court versus that dispensed by a district court. So why do we need these new chancery courts?

The proposed chancery court scheme dovetails with this year’s Legislature other efforts to reduce the power of Texas cities and counties, particularly as more cities attempt to regulate certain businesses. Many Texas cities—particularly those more liberal than the Lege—have promulgated laws when the State has not acted on a particular subject. Denton voted to ban fracking. Houston promulgated its HERO ordinance. Other cities are considering a hike in the minimum wage. This chancery court scheme fits with the goals of many legislators of reigning in the power of urban Texas cities and counties, particularly those cities that lean left. By creating a separate and independent court system—one that is apparently unaccountable at the ballot box—the bill takes a whack out of the power of those more liberal jurisdictions.

I don’t think this additional chancery court system is a good idea. I prefer having local judges and juries decide disputes. The nature of the dispute should not make a difference on who decides it. This system does not attack an issue that’s proven to be a real problem. I haven’t heard too many judges or parties complaining about these cases clogging their dockets. I haven’t encountered many folks clamoring for a special court to decide business disputes.

At the end of the day, I think the odds of this bill passing are fair. Texas is a State where big business usually gets what it wants. If big business decides it wants a court of chancery, it will get it.

UPDATE: The House Business and Industry Committee held a hearing regarding HB 1603 on March 24. The bill hasn’t made it out of committee. Stay tuned!