Rich Phillips Quoted in Law360 on Texas Court Comparisons

“Texas Justices Don’t Disfavor Any One Court With Reversals”

For decades, Texas lawyers have heard the old saw that the state’s appellate court in Corpus Christi is “the Ninth Circuit of Texas” — more liberal, an outlier, its rulings more likely to be reversed by the Texas Supreme Court. But the numbers don’t bear that out, according to a Law360 review of high court reversals that shows the Thirteenth Court of Appeals is in the middle of the pack.

Rich Phillips of Thompson & Knight LLP said the comparison to the Ninth Circuit likely is less tied to the courts’ actual reversal rates and more about the unfavorable connotations some Texans assign to California and the West Coast.

And the reversal rate of a particular appellate court likely doesn’t sway the Texas Supreme Court justices as they decide whether to review a case, he said.

“I don’t think it’s something the Texas Supreme Court goes out of its way to look for,” Phillips said. “They’re not focused on which court it came from as much as they’re focused on the substance of the opinion.”

Phillips said the high court’s justices consider many factors, among them whether the case tees up a subject matter they need to write on, and whether the facts of the case make it a compelling vehicle to address a certain issue.

“I just don’t think the originating court comes into play that much for the Texas Supreme Court,” he said.