A Simple Presciption for Texas's Ailing Court System: Stronger Stare Decisis
Andrew T. Solomon
South Texas College of Law
St. Mary's Law Journal, Vol. 37, p. 417, 2006
A fairly recent study of Texas's court system concluded that Texas did not really have a court system, but rather the courts tended to function independently from one another with no real central focus. This Article examines this excess of independence and the problems faced by Texas's litigants. It shows how similarly-situated (and sometimes even identically-situated) Texas litigants receive unequal treatment in Texas courts. It further shows how Texas's weak adherence to stare decisis, coupled with its unique appellate court structure, has led to the non-uniform, inconsistent, unequal, unfair, and confusing justice system. Such non-uniform and inconsistent decision-making is inherently unfair and the antithesis of a justice system.
Although several Texas Supreme Court Justices, including the recently departed Chief Justice Phillips, have warned about these problems, the Supreme Court and Texas Legislature have failed to produce meaningful court reform. Interestingly, every reform proposal has focused on making structural, as opposed to substantive, changes to Texas's appellate courts. Although these structural reform proposals have significant merit, they ignore the main substantive problem: Texas's weak adherence to stare decisis. In contrast to these structural reform proposals, this Article explores an entirely different solution. After first explaining how different models of stare decisis operate in other jurisdictions and in Texas, the Article proposes a relatively simple solution to fixing Texas's ailing court system: stronger stare decisis. By implementing the proposed stronger stare decisis rules, Texas's courts will lose some independence. Instead, these courts will function dependently with a central focus, providing equal justice for similarly-situated Texans.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 60
Keywords: legal writing, courts, precedentAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 17, 2007
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