Friday, April 7, 2017


Saw Martin Short and Steve Martin live in concert in Sugar Land .


The next meeting of the Austin County Bar is Tuesday, April 11th at noon at Cielito Lindo.

Since the last meeting, we’ve added two new junior members:

Megan Styers had a girl—Chloe Kidd

Laramie Elick had a boy---John Westin

Congratulations to them both.

See you Tuesday.




Kentucky Coal Museum Switches To Solar

by jonathanturley

290px-the_sunCoal_bituminousWe have been discussing how the Trump Administration seems to be moving aggressively in the opposite direction of much of the world: betting heavily on coal as an energy source as opposed to renewable energy.  One group that does not appear onboard with the shift is the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham, KY.  The museum  at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College has switched to solar power.


Russia Bans Picture of Putin As Gay Clown

by jonathanturley
C8tOoLnUAAETTWdThe crackdown on free speech and dissent in Russia knows few bounds.  Vladimir Putin's image or name are often treated as virtually sacred as when people were arrested for showing the authoritarian leader in underwear or spitting on his image in protest.  Now the Russian Justice ministry has banned this image of Putin as a gay clown as "gay propaganda" promoting homosexuality.  Of course, the greater concern may be promoting free speech in a nation rapidly replacing individual rights with a cult of personality.

Susman Godfrey is sanctioned for wrong line spacing in brief

Legal brief magnifying glass
Photo from Shutterstock.
A federal judge in Manhattan has fined Susman Godfrey $1,048.09 for wrong spacing in a brief that allowed the law firm to cram more words into its argument on behalf of Amazon Web Services Inc.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the law firm used 24-point spacing, rather than double spacing, allowing it to exceed the court’s 25-page limit, Law360 (sub. req.) reports.
According to Marrero, the court’s individual rules of practice require all memoranda to be “double-spaced and in 12-point font with 1-inch margins.”
Marrero said in the suit (PDF) that “the flouting of this court’s individual rules” was a deliberate choice by the law firm “to gain some slight advantage in this litigation.” The sanction amounted to the cost of filing a new document that complied with court rules.
Amazon Web Services Inc. is a defendant in a trademark infringement and unfair competition suit filed by CafeX Communications Inc. The suit claims Amazon called its new collaboration software “Chime” even though CafeX already was using the name for its own collaboration software.
A Susman Godfrey spokesperson did not comment in response to an ABA Journal email.
Susman Godfrey isn’t the first law firm to have trouble with a judge’s line spacing requirements. A federal judge in Louisiana took lawyers to task in 2014 for slightly squeezing the spacing between the lines. A Medium blog post and a story commenting on that decision point out that, in the old days of typewriters, single spaced type had 12 points per line and double spaced had 24 points a line. But “double spaced” in many word processing programs adds even more breathing room, which reduces the number of lines per page.


Sunset Bills
SB 302, relating to the continuation and functions of the State Bar of Texas, and SB 303, relating to the continuation and functions of the Board of Law Examiners, both by Watson (D-Austin), were passed out of the Senate on Tuesday, April 4.
House Criminal Jurisprudence
The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee met on Monday, April 3 and considered a full agenda of bills, including HB 2680 by Canales (D-Edinburg), relating to the creation and promulgation of certain standard forms for statewide use in criminal actions, which was left pending. Click here to listen to the archived committee broadcast. The next committee meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 10. Click here for the complete list of scheduled bills.
House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence
The House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee heard a variety of bills on Tuesday, April 4. Among the bills considered and left pending were several probate and trust bills that are part of the State Bar Legislative package, listed below, and HB 1532 by Farrar (D- Houston), relating to posting notice of self-help resources on the Internet website of a state court and in the office of the court clerk. The committee also considered and left pending several House Joint Resolutions dealing with eligibility requirements and terms of office of certain judicial offices. Click here to listen to an archived committee broadcast.
The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for Tuesday, April 11. The following bills are included on the committee’s agenda:

  • HB 214 by Canales (D-Edinburg) relating to a recording of certain proceedings of the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals and the publication of the recordings; and
  • HB 3971 by Schofield (R-Katy) relating to the method of calculating the salary of state judges.
House Juvenile Justice & Family Issues
The House Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee met on Wednesday, April 5, and considered a variety of bills. The committee voted out several previously considered bills, including HB 730 by Bohac (R-Houston) relating to a disclosure by an attorney before accepting representation of a client in a suit for the dissolution of a marriage. Click here for the archived committee broadcast.
The committee agenda for next week was not posted in time for inclusion in the Friday Update. Current information on upcoming meetings for this committee can be found here.
Senate Criminal Justice
The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice met on Tuesday, April 4. Click here to view the agenda.
Among the bills considered were:

  • SB 1338 by Whitmire (D-Houston), relating to the pretrial release of a defendant and to funding for judicial continuing legal education, which was considered and left pending.
  • SB 1728 by Birdwell (R-Granbury), relating to public access to juvenile court proceedings, which was voted favorably from the committee.
The committee agenda for next week was not posted in time for inclusion in the Friday Update. Current information on upcoming meetings for this committee can be found here.
2017-18 Budget
SB 1, the budget bill for the 2018-2019 biennium, was debated on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday, April 6. There were over 400 pre-filed amendments to the bill, and debate continued into the night. A final vote had not been taken in time for inclusion in the Friday Update, but can be viewed here.
The House also considered and passed HB 2, relating to making supplemental appropriations and giving direction and adjustment authority regarding appropriations. HB 2, commonly referred to as the supplemental budget bill, addresses shortfalls in the current 2016-17 budget.
Visit the House’s video/audio page to access the archived session broadcast for Thursday’s proceedings. Additional information about the proposed budget is available on the Legislative Budget Board website.
Of Interest

  • SB 42 by Zaffirini (D-Laredo), relating to security of courts and judges in the state (known as the Judge Julie Kocurek Judicial and Courthouse Security Act of 2017), passed out of the Texas Senate on Tuesday, April 4.
  • SB 1329 by Huffman (R- Houston), relating to the operation and administration of and practice in courts in the judicial branch of state government, passed out of the Texas Senate on Thursday, April 6.
State Bar Legislative Program
The following bills, included in the State Bar’s 2017 legislative program, changed status this week:
Family Law:

Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law:


Trump Strikes Syria As America’s Undeclared War Expands

by jonathanturley
The United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase last night in retaliation for a chemical attack blamed on the Syrian government.  The Syrian government previously declared U.S. troops and military operations in its country to be an invasion of the country.   With the expansion of military operations, including troops on the ground, I thought it was worth reposting the recent column on undeclared wars that have become the norm for the United States.






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