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The Texas Appellate Law Podcast, proudly presented by Butler Snow LLP, covers topics of interest to lawyers handling appellate matters in Texas courts and beyond. The podcast demystifies appellate law and pulls back the curtain on the appellate system through conversations with judges, court staff, and top trial and appellate practitioners. Listeners discover best practices and tips for successfully presenting their cases, managing their dockets, and promoting efficiency through legal techno ...
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We lawyers love to travel: but litigation is geographically bound. We're allowed to practice only in states where we're admitted. International practice is nearly nonexistent. And even cases with international aspects are limited to American courts. This podcast seeks to explore appellate litigation across the world. How do appellate courts in other countries work? What do their appellate lawyers look like? What do they do better than us? And what can we learn from them as we build our own s ...
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Jury charge practice in Texas trials just got a shakeup thanks to the recent Horton v. Kansas City Railway Co. decision. In today’s episode, Todd Smith and Jody Sanders delve into the Texas Supreme Court’s recent pivot on Casteel error in jury charges. They analyze the implications for appellate practice, sparked by the Court’s revised stance in th…
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Justice Anita Earls of the North Carolina Supreme Court knows about some reforms that will improve our justice system. But she also knows about some that will provoke an unhappy response—including an investigation against her personally. In this second half of our interview, Justice Earls talks about how she found herself under investigation for ca…
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Just because you’re law-abiding doesn’t mean you won’t need a criminal-defense attorney. There are more criminal laws in federal and California state law books than you could read in a decade. (I asked ChatGPT: if you printed them all out, they would be taller than the 24-story AT&T building in San Diego.) Enter Criminal Defense Hero Don Hammond. I…
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The legal world is undergoing a seismic shift. Technological advancements and a changing social landscape force the legal profession to adapt, but are law schools keeping pace? In this episode, Jody Sanders and Todd Smith visit with Dean Robert B. Ahdieh of Texas A&M Law School about the state of modern legal education and more. Dean Ahdieh shares …
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Justice Anita Earls of the North Carolina Supreme Court knows about some reforms that will improve our justice system. But she also knows about some that will provoke an unhappy response—including an investigation against her personally. In this first part of our interview, we discuss Justice Earls’ path from a 30-year civil rights attorney to supr…
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We have a few big cases to cover: The Supreme Court, 9-0, guaranteed continued access to abortion pills. A 9th Circuit split panel, meanwhile, allows a challenge to a Covid-19 vaccine mandate to proceed, challenging Buck v. Bell forced sterilization-era public health precedent. And a get-out-of-arbitration-free card case get reversed on FAA grounds…
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The Texas legal landscape will change significantly on September 1, 2024, with the launch of the Business Court and the 15th Court of Appeals. While the start date is set, many details are still uncertain. In this episode, Tyler Talbert, a board-certified civil appellate lawyer from Waco, joins hosts Todd Smith and Jody Sanders to delve into these …
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John Sylvester was the counsel of record in the controversial Abdelqader v. Abraham published opinion. In the previous episode we discussed why it was controversial. (Short version: because the Court of Appeal, sub silentio, thumbed its nose at the Supreme Court and concluded that a missing finding required by statute gives you a an automatic get-a…
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John Sylvester was the counsel of record in the controversial Abdelqader v. Abraham published opinion. Why was it controversial? Because the Court of Appeal thumbed its nose at the Supreme Court, which had held in F.P. v. Monier that just because the trial judge forgets to make a required written finding you don’t get an automatic get-a-new-trial-f…
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Judges represent not only their judicial office, but also the legitimacy of the judicial branch as a whole. For many Americans, their only interaction with the legal system may come from a single trip to the courthouse. This makes it imperative for judges to leave participants in the system feeling that they have been treated fairly and respectfull…
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Every attorney has felt the concern over a growing receivable, and the frustration of a nonpaying client. In the continuation of our discussion in the last episode, Carl Mueller shares his top 10 tips to avoid them and win them. The tips include: See a “red flag”? Trust your gut, and run. Check your retainer agreements for compliance with Business …
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Every attorney has felt the concern over a growing receivable, and the frustration of a nonpaying client. Carl Mueller litigates these billing disputes and explains what attorneys should know to avoid them and to win them: All the billing disputes are basically the same, so… Spot the “red flags.” (You know what they are.) If you do get into a dispu…
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Preparation is the key to winning at trial, and focus groups are a powerful tool for ensuring that a case is trial-ready. In this episode of the Texas Appellate Law Podcast, hosts Todd Smith and Jody Sanders visit with Austin-based trial lawyer and consultant Elizabeth Larrick of the Larrick Law Firm. Elizabeth shares her passion for helping lawyer…
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Appellate justices’ research attorneys are the ones advising the justices about your arguments and writing the opinions. We discuss 10 tips offered at a recent Orange County Bar Association event. Here is a taste: 😮 Biggest surprise: The Court of Appeal wants hyperlinked briefs. They want to be able to click on your record cites to confirm your fac…
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Last time, we set the table with special-education attorney Tim Adams to discuss the big 9th Circuit win for parents of kids with IEPs (individualized education protocols). Now we dig in to Irvine Unified School District v. Landers and Gagliano. After covering the fact that the school district, to get out of helping a dyslexic student get the help …
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Lawyers are professional writers, and the ability to write persuasively is more important than ever. In this episode, Luther Munford, an appellate expert and former law professor, joins Todd Smith and Jody Sanders for an insightful discussion on the principles of persuasive legal writing. Luther emphasizes the importance of ethos, logos, and pathos…
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A big 9th Circuit win for parents of kids with IEPs (individualized education protocols) came down recently, and the prevailing attorney is podcast alum Tim Adams. In the first of this two-part discussion, we set the table to discuss Irvine Unified School District v. Landers and Gagliano. For example, to understand why parents trying to help their …
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Are you expecting a lawsuit? And do you want to get that lawsuit into federal court? If your client is domiciled in California, you need to know about “snap removals.” If you get wind of the lawsuit before it is served, you might be able to defeat the removal-bar on home-state defendants. But don’t commit a “super snap” removal. That’s when you rem…
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As civil trials become more expensive and less frequent, proactive attorneys should look for ways to streamline or end their cases before trial. Luckily, both Texas statutes and court rules provide some helpful tools. In this episode Todd Smith and Jody Sanders discuss ways parties can address legal issues before, during, and after trial that can s…
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Racial minorities are sometimes removed from prospective juries—just like everybody else. But the Legislature is so concerned that this could happen on the (obviously improper) basis of race that the Racial Justice Act prohibits a challenge to a racial minority even on the basis of proper factors, such as lack of life experience. And if that happen…
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Every day as an appeals lawyer brings new puzzles. But some puzzles repeat. So in this episode, we compile the top 10 tips dispensed regularly to trial attorneys working in family court. They include: 👉 Know your appealable issues—appeal now, or lose it forever! 👉 Request a statement of decision. Don’t need to, you say? Judge already gave a tentati…
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The U.S. Supreme Court provides awaited guidance on public officials’ use of social media, and the California Supreme Court gives a cautionary tale about waiving the right to a jury trial. Jeff and I discuss: 📰Free Speech on Government Social Media: Lindke v. Freed (Mar. 15, 2024, No. 22-611), notable for being short and unanimous, holds that, when…
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Raffi Melkonian has argued and won in the U.S. Supreme Court, and started the #AppellateTwitter community of appellate attorneys on Twitter/X, where he has over 65,000 followers, and speaks and writes on appeals across the country. And Raffi is here to tell you that building a business on an appellate practice—even a very successful one—is very har…
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Suing the federal government can be a daunting task. In this episode, Todd Smith and Jody Sanders sit down with Tom Jacob, a partner at National Trial Law in Austin, Texas, to discuss the intricacies of litigating cases under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Tom highlights the groundbreaking Sutherland Springs mass-shooting case, in which his firm secu…
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We discuss how to avoid appellate sanctions, and an unusually successful motion for reconsideration: $50k sanctions against appellant for blowing appellate procedure. Motion for reconsideration was untimely, but righteous. Trial judge did not take the Court of Appeal’s hint, so writ issued. (But the trial judge was right to let the writ issue.) Ant…
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Judicial clerkships can provide unparalleled access and prestige to young lawyers just entering practice. But because the judiciary requires confidentiality and secrecy to operate properly, often law students don’t know what to expect. The Legal Accountability Project is working to change that by making the system more transparent for law schools a…
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There are 30,000 law clerks in the U.S., and we have no good way to know to judge their experiences. So Judge Douglas Nazarian of the Appellate Court of Maryland—and board member of the Legal Accountability Project—asks judges everywhere to take the LAP Pledge. The Project hosts a growing database of survey responses from judicial clerks, but it ne…
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You thought health and wellness was just for hippies, losers and weirdos. But you were wrong. Leslie Porter explains that if you are waiting for your health issues to become acute enough for a prescription, you are not at your best. Not only are you laying the groundwork for possible big problems down the road, you have lower energy, weakened drive…
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Next time your opposing counsel takes issue with something you say, don’t be surprised to find a complaint in the next filing citing to rule 8.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct—the new “snitch rule.” There are about a dozen terms of legal art in the snitch rule, so we asked Judge Meredith Jury (Ret.) and Certified Bankruptcy Specialist Stella …
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Just a few years out of law school, Kyle O’Malley won a landmark case in the Supreme Court of California. The employer’s screening service in *Raines v. US Healthworks Medical Group*, 15 Cal.5th 268 (2023) used a generic questionnaire asking about menstrual cycles, hemorrhoids, hair loss, and all sorts of fool questions not tailored to the specific…
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The 9th Circuit is taking up the ostensible narrow issue of appealability of anti-SLAPP orders. But it could be broader. Much broader. If the court decides anti-SLAPPs are procedural rather than substantive, says Cory Webster, that would mean no more anti-SLAPP motions in federal court. We also discuss that recent panel that departed from an earlie…
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The Supreme Court has granted cert on whether prosecuting a homeless sidewalk-camper is cruel and unusual punishment. And the 9th Circuit has granted en banc review whether anti-SLAPP denials are appealable. Also: You are doing MSJ separate statements wrong (maybe). There are two schools of thought, and the Court of Appeal in a partially published …
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In this episode, seasoned appellate practitioner Scott Stolley sits down with Todd Smith and Jody Sanders to confront the issue of bullying in the legal profession. Scott explores the multifaceted nature of bullying, from interactions with opposing counsel and judges to the challenges of managing clients and relationships with lawyers in the same f…
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California law now provides for initial discovery disclosures. Get a template handy for your upcoming cases. And watch out for the new minimum $1,000 sanction for discovery misconduct. And some recent cases: The definitive answer whether orders on motion to enforce settlements are appealable is: Nobody has any friggin’ idea. And the answer on how t…
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Yisrael Gelb focuses his appellate practice on helping plaintiff lawyers beat summary judgment. We talk about some of his approaches to successfully opposing summary judgment motions, including: 🔧 Look for common defects in the moving party’s separate statement 🤜 Push back on the moving party’s showing. It is often not up to snuff. Drive that point…
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Artificial intelligence is a technological evolution that’s reshaping the future of law. But its rapid ascent contains both benefits and potential pitfalls for the unwary. In this episode, former Vinson & Elkins executive Tim Armstrong visits with Todd Smith and Jody Sanders about the evolving landscape of AI and its potential impact on the legal p…
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Looking back on the year’s 50 episodes, we discuss some of our best guests, including our 9th Circuit correspondent, Cory Webster, our legal-writing correspondent, Ryan McCarl, our legal-movie correspondent, Gary Wax, and our inspirational public-interest appellate lawyers Chris Schandevel and Carl Cecere. There’s our legal-citation-parenthetical m…
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In this special year-end episode of the Texas Appellate Law Podcast, hosts Jody Sanders and Todd Smith reflect on the year, express gratitude to their audience and sponsors, and revisit past episodes relevant to coping with the holidays. They also touch on recent developments in Texas appellate law, including new rules from the Texas Supreme Court.…
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Prof. Eugene Volokh joined us to discuss restraining orders, how many of them violate the First Amendment as unlawful prior restraints, and how you can spot the First Amendment problems. The purpose of a restraining orders is to get a person to stop harassing you, but “harassment” can be a pretty vague term—and the same goes for “bullying,” “cyberb…
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Finding a career in the law and finding something you’re passionate about don’t always intersect. But McKenzie Edwards, a trial lawyer with Cleveland | Krist PLLC in Austin, has managed to do both. Starting in law school, she saw the inconsistent and nebulous rules concerning how and when a state seeks the death penalty. This inspired her to repres…
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Employment and class-action attorney Glenn Danas has argued 49 appeals in state and federal appellate courts throughout the country, including a current streak of eight consecutive reversals. Glenn talks with us about litigating the landmark Iskanian case, and how he turned the panel that initially issued a 148-page tentative against his client. Gl…
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Mental health struggles and addiction are more common than we realize, especially among attorneys. In this episode, Brian Cuban, author of The Addicted Lawyer: Tales of the Bar, Booze, Blow, and Redemption, delves into addiction and the recovery journey for lawyers. As an advocate for mental health awareness and recovery, Brian shares his personal …
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Turns out you CAN shout “fire” in a crowded theater, and lots of other lies besides—unless the government meets a heavy burden, that is. The author of four books and more than 20 academic articles, First Amendment scholar and Naval Academy associate professor Jeff Kosseff makes the case for the freedom to speak freely, and even to tell lies, free (…
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In a recent opinion, the Court of Appeal reversed by noting that one of the grounds supporting the judgment was forfeited…by the respondent. Wait. By the respondent? An appellant must be careful not to forfeit argument, but not the respondent. We discuss, and express gratitude that this one was not published—and thus cannot be cited as precedent. W…
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Artificial intelligence is rapidly evolving and is beginning to impact almost every aspect of our lives. The legal industry is no exception, and numerous ethical issues have emerged as a result. In this episode, Todd Smith and Jody Sanders explore the ups and downs of lawyers using generative AI with Derek Bauman of Feldman and Feldman in Houston. …
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Trial resulted in a sizable judgment against your client. You know to stay judgment enforcement you have to post a bond, but what, exactly, does that mean? And how do you do it? Enter Dan Huckabay from Court Surety Bond Agency. We sit down with Dan and ask him how we attorneys can be a hero for our clients by knowing a few key things about appellat…
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Ryan McCarl, author of the latest book on legal writing, Elegant Legal Writing, sits down with us to discuss why now, more than ever, attorneys need to elevate beyond ChatGPT and distractions to rise to our role as teachers of the law. Ryan offers these actionable tips: 🖋️ “Defer editing” and “second-guessing” until a later draft. Don’t be committe…
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Few Texas judges have seen the courtroom from as many perspectives as Third Court of Appeals Justice Gisela Triana. From a practitioner, to a municipal judge, to a trial court judge on various benches, Justice Triana has served the State in a variety of roles. She joins Todd Smith and Jody Sanders in this episode to discuss the insights she has gai…
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Appellate courts are in the affirming business. But be ready to take advantage of easy reversals, like in these examples: 😎 If the court refuses to hold an evidentiary hearing in a contested probate matter, that is (probably) structural error and reversible. 😎 If the court refuses to provide a statement of decision on key issues, that is a good ope…
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Ninth Circuit correspondent Cory Webster joins us to discuss the court’s unusually busy en banc docket and its own species of “shadow docket.” We discuss how parties and judges are moving a few hot-button cases into procedural positions that may suggest what the merits decision will be—but without really touching the merits. We discuss: Gun Rights:…
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