The court of appeals protects the “Rule of Law”
After a civil or a criminal trial is complete, most parties can ask the court of appeals to review the case and decide whether the trial judge made legal errors that might have affected the case’s outcome. Rather than trying the case again, however, the appellate court focuses on the law and decides such matters as interpreting statutes, understanding procedural rules, and assessing whether the trial court correctly applied that law during the case. As such, the court of appeals is the guardian of the “Rule of Law” in business, criminal, family law, personal injury, trust and estate, and other cases that arise in state courts and affect Texans’ daily lives. Trial court decisions typically affect only the parties involved in that particular case. Decisions from the court of appeals, however, set precedents that affect citizens throughout that court’s area in particular and potentially throughout the state.
As an example of this court’s importance, when a statute becomes law, 181 legislators have played a role in making that statute the state’s public policy. Likewise, the governor has added his or her signature. That is 182 elected public officials have made the state’s public policy.
That statute can come before the court of appeals to decide whether that statute is valid, what does it mean, and how does it apply. There will be three justices hearing the case. Very few people will know who those justices are and even fewer will have paid attention to the election process. Yet, those three people in effect have the power to remove that statute from the books or to interpret it in a way that that the public or the legislature ever intended. It is thus very important to know who those justices are, to know that they have the correct understanding of the court’s limited constitutional role and that they have the judgment, common sense, experience, integrity, analytical skill, academic excellence, and decide the case correctly.
Located in Dallas, the Fifth Court of Appeals is the largest court of appeals in Texas, with twelve Justices and one Chief Justice, and is the intermediate appellate court serving Collin, Dallas, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties. As such, its opinions have an impact statewide.
This court with a chief justice, 12 jusitces, 34 staff attorneys, and one law clerk is much like a large law firm with a managing partner, partners, and associates working in teams to efficiently and correctly decide cases with written opinions stating the court’s rulings and explaining the court’s reasoning. This is the same type of work Bill has done very successfully at a very high level for more than 30 years. Bill’s 30 year private sector law firm experience doing the same type of work the jusitces do, and in a simialr environment, more than qualifies him for this court.