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Copyright (c) 2012 South Texas Law Review, Inc.
South Texas Law Review

COMMENT: The Undermining of the Texas Jury System From Above

Spring, 2012

South Texas Law Review

53 S. Tex. L. Rev. 631

Author

Benjamin H. Ruemke*
 

Excerpt



I. Introduction
 
The Supreme Court of Texas has a history of controversy that has plagued its rulings with an appearance of bias. 1 Some believe the court has taken it upon itself to effect tort reform through rulings favoring business defendants. 2 If true, the repercussions of this bias not only could unfairly disadvantage plaintiffs, but could also undermine the Texas jury system by rendering jury verdicts irrelevant. This Comment will focus on whether or not the Texas Supreme Court has overstepped its authority by using "no evidence rulings" to overturn jury verdicts and, if so, possible motivations for those findings. Part II of this Comment will discuss statistics of the Texas Supreme Court's rulings, Texas juries, the funding of Texas's partisan elections, and the new standard of review created by the court. Part III of this Comment will review jury verdicts the court has overturned through no evidence rulings by dismissing expert testimony and vague interpretations of precedent. In addition, Part III will promote a merit-based system of judicial selection.

II. Background of Bias
 
For the last thirty years, the Texas Supreme Court seems to have had a bias toward one side or the other in tort cases. 3 During the early 1980s, the court was dominated by pro-plaintiff justices who were financially backed by the plaintiffs' bar. 4 A 60 Minutes broadcast, entitled "Is Justice for Sale," brought that bias to light in 1987 when it exposed the plaintiffs' bar for financing judicial elections. 5
 
 
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