Texas Judiciary Assignment

Texas has an unusual appeals process for judicial cases. District courts, where trials on matters of fact are held, are separated into different types according to the kind of cases they hear. You may notice when you vote in county elections, there are civil courts, criminal courts, probate courts, family courts, etc.

All these cases are appealed to a court that has jurisdiction in all of those areas. The First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals, which meet in Houston, hear all kinds of criminal and civil cases.

After that, however, the process splits again. Criminal cases go to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Civil cases go to the Texas Supreme Court.

Go the the Texas Supreme Court website: http://www.txcourts.gov/supreme/ (Links to an external site.)

Use the “case search” feature to find a case called “Mosley v. Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (17-0345),” decided on May 3, 2019.

In this case, a state agency investigated a nurse, Patricia Mosley, for allegedly neglecting a disabled patient, and recommended she be added to the department’s “Employee Misconduct Registry,” a blacklist that would have effectively ended her career. She requested an appeal of the department’s decision, following  the process the agency told her to follow in a letter it sent her. As it turned out, however, the department’s letter gave her the wrong procedure to follow, and – following the department’s instructions – she didn’t file the required motion for rehearing and her appeal was dismissed. The state’s position was, basically, that she should have known better than to follow the department’s own instructions.

The question before the Texas Supreme Court: Did the government’s actions violate Mosley’s right to “due course of the law of the land” under the Texas Constitution?

Write a 2 – 5 page essay explaining the facts of the case and how the court ruled. What did Justice Brown say about the court’s reasoning in his majority opinion? What is a concurring opinion, and what did Justice Blacklock say in his? [Note: How cool is it that the Supreme Court cited the movie Animal House as a scholarly source of judicial reasoning (“Come on, Flounder. You can’t spend your whole life worrying about
your mistakes. You [messed] up. You trusted us.”)?]

Submit in Word. Cite your sources.

Other Resources

Forbes Magazine take a look at the case: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicksibilla/2019/05/21/texas-supreme-court-government-deception-violated-nurses-right-to-due-process/#3ed972ea7957 (Links to an external site.)

Texas Appellate Watch has a summary: https://www.texasappellatewatch.com/2019/05/texas-supreme-court-opinions-may-3-2019.html (Links to an external site.)

The Institute for Justice has a summary: https://ij.org/press-release/texas-supreme-court-rules-that-the-government-cannot-lie-to-you-and-then-hold-it-against-you-in-court/ (Links to an external site.)

Legendary Houston law firm Baker Botts handled the case for the petitioner: https://www.bakerbotts.com/news/2019/05/baker-botts-wins-due-course-of-law-case-at-the-supreme-court-of-texas (Links to an external site.)

Note on state court websites

The Texas Supreme Court seems to take its website down for maintenance a lot, usually around time time you’re supposed to be working on my Texas courts assignment. If the website is down, there are some alternative ways to get the information you need.

Here’s another way to get to the majority opinion: https://law.justia.com/cases/texas/supreme-court/2019/17-0345.html (Links to an external site.)

Here’s another way to get to the concurring opinion: https://law.justia.com/cases/texas/supreme-court/2019/17-0345-0.html

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