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38 Advocate (Texas) 3 (2007)

handle is hein.barjournals/adsbate0038 and id is 1 raw text is: ADVOCATE * SPRING 2007

CHAIR's REPORT
ELCOME TO THE BEST OF LITIGATION UPDATE 2007 edition
of THE ADVOCATE. This year's Litigation Update ran into ice in
uslSan Antonio, but the papers are excellent and everyone can find
a useful article in the issue. The Best of is published electronically
only and not sent to your snail-mailbox. This allows us to publish more
articles without concerns about trees and printing or mailing costs.
Legislative Advocacy
The Litigation Section in its continued efforts to enhance and improve
our system of justice is opposing SB1204 lately introduced in the
legislative session by Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock). SB1204
seeks to reorganize the Texas courts making drastic changes without
N t NLON           any study or discussion of problem areas and without apparent input
from Texas lawyers or judges. The Section is urging the Legislature to
allow study and identification of areas that need reorganization and to encourage discussion and
input from those who regularly appear and sit in those courts.
The Section has formed a Working Group of lawyers and judges representing groups such as
Texas Association of Defense Counsel, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Texas-ABOTA, and various
courts and judges. The -Working Group will be studying the system and encouraging discussion of
the issues and interests addressed by SB1204 and other areas identified. The Section will continue
strongly urging the legislature to make certain that reorganization is in the best interest of the
people of Texas before enacting sweeping changes that will drastically alter the operation of our
courts.
To view SB1204, go to http://wvww.capitol.state.tx.us/BiliLookup/BillNumber.aspx.
Appellate Advocacy
The Section joined in an Amicus Curiae Brief to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Vasilas v.
State of Texas in support of Appellant's Petition for Discretionary Review last fall. The Court granted
the petition on March 21, 2007, and has agreed to hear oral arguments.
Although it may seem strange that our Section would involve itself in a criminal appeal, this is a
case that concerns us all. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the trial court and Dallas Court
of Appeals, holding that a pleading filed with a court created by a party or attorney is a government
record and that an attorney can be held criminally liable for false statements that are included in
the pleading under TEX. PENAL CODE §37.10(a)(5). The Amicus Brief, ably written by Professor
Lonny Hoffman, argues that the Court's reading of the statute criminalizing advocacy or other use
of pleadings and motions filed in civil cases: (1) will likely spur unnecessary satellite litigation and
gamesmanship among civil litigants; (2) poses a particularly severe threat to plaintiffs and their
lawyers in civil rights, public interest, and other related litigation; (3) is likely lead to the inequitable
application of the penal law against lawyers and litigants involved in civil litigation where some
arm or agency of the government is involved in the suit; (4) is likely to spark unnecessary tensions
between the criminal and civil courts by effectively giving an imprimatur to collateral attacks on the
civil trial judge's sanctions decision; and (5) invites prosecutorial error and abuse.

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