Texas
Subscribe to Texas's Posts

In WDTex, the Fight Escalates

Last week we told you about Judge Alan Albright’s determination to keep trying patent cases. He had a trial scheduled for January in Austin, where we had transferred the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404 while leaving himself as the assigned judge. Trials are not being held in the Austin courthouse, however, so he transferred the case back to Waco. Now the defendant has moved to postpone the trial until after March, attaching a declaration from the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Baylor University Medical Center stating that the current state of the pandemic "poses a significant potential risk to the health, safety and life of participants in a trial starting January 11, 2021, in Waco or Austin, Texas, as well as to the communities in the Division where trial is held and communities in places where out-of-state participants will return after trial." According to the declaration, there is a 74% chance of "at least one person having COVID-19...

Continue Reading

Waco to be the New Trial Hot Spot

With Judge Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas finally cancelling his winter trials in the face of surging cases, attention turns to the Western District of Texas, which Judge Alan Albright is going in a different direction. Waco has become the nation’s hottest patent infringement venue, in part due to Judge Albright’s willingness to bring patent cases quickly to trial. Defendants sued in the Waco Division frequently adopt a strategy of moving for an interdivisional transfer to Austin. Judge Albright has been amenable to such motions, but often he retains the case as the trial judge even as he transfers it to Austin. Yesterday he entered a noteworthy order in one such case. The Western District of Texas has continued trials through the end of 2020. However, judges in a particularly division may opt out of that order. The judges in Austin have not opted out. Thus, according to Judge Albright, the Austin Division is “currently closed” and “remains closed...

Continue Reading

“Jury Trials are Innately Human Experiences.”

Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas as capitulated, postponing his upcoming trials until March. His order includes some interesting commentary in the footnotes. Of remote proceedings, Judge Gilstrap writes: This approach, while adequate in a strict sense, allowed the Court to move forward virtually, albeit with regularly unwelcomed losses of audio, video, or both, including unfixable lagtime between audio and video where lips would move. . . lips would stop . . . and sound would follow. The virtual proceedings detracted from the typical administration of justice, depriving the Court of the ability to observe such critical factors as intonation, body-language, attitude, demeanor, and similar vocal and other physical nuance and those quasi-intangibles that normally breathe life and meaning into the written briefing filed on the docket. This approach also unavoidably hampered the Court’s ability to interject questions...

Continue Reading

Content May Soon Run Out

What will we write about when all the courts have closed? We are rapidly on the way to finding out, especially in the federal system. Here’s a summary of recent federal district court orders on jury trials: Eastern District of Arkansas: Civil and criminal jury trials scheduled before January 15, 2021 are continued to a later date. District of Colorado: Civil and criminal jury trials scheduled before January 8, 2021 are continued to a later date. Northern District of Illinois: Civil and criminal jury trials suspended indefinitely. Central District of Illinois: Civil and criminal jury trials suspended and shall be reset for a date after January 25, 2021. Southern District of Illinois: Civil and criminal jury trials set through January 24, 2021 are cancelled and will be reset. Northern District of Indiana: All jury trials scheduled to begin before January 29, 2021, are continued and will be rescheduled by the presiding judge “unless the presiding judge, in their...

Continue Reading

In EDTex, the Fallout Continues

As we’ve covered in several posts below, a trial fell apart in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Sherman earlier this month, with jurors, attorneys and court staff all contracting COVID-19 (at least 13 people in total) and others now in quarantine. The question now is: What lesson will other judges take from what happened in Judge Amos Mazzant’s courtroom? We may soon find out. Citing Judge Mazzant’s trial and the rising level of cases in Texas and across the country, defendants with December patent infringement trials in Marshall are seeking continuances. Their papers are here and here and also embedded below: These briefs will be useful for any litigants seeking continuances right now.

Continue Reading

Dark Winter for Trial Lawyers

Today there is a wave of news. Delaware froze jury trials, although only through December 4. New York state courts have suspended jury trials indefinitely. New Jersey has continued all jury trials, except one that is in progress. Tennessee suspended jury trials through January 31. Vermont, one of the states least impacted by the pandemic, never resumed holding jury trials, and it has canceled its plans to do so in December. Alaska has shut down jury trials through at least January 4. Pennsylvania has suspended most courthouse operations, including jury trials, statewide—just days after leaving it up to individual jurisdictions. And the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana has suspended all jury trials through January 25. Meanwhile, in the suspended US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas breach of contract trial in Judge Amos Mazzant’s courtroom, which we’ve covered previously, now 13 participants—including two jurors, two people...

Continue Reading

Eastern District of Texas: The Jury Will Return in Three Weeks

An update on our last item. After a federal jury trial in Sherman was shut down due to multiple participants (including a lawyer and a jury member) being diagnosed with COVID-19, the court held a telephone hearing on Friday afternoon and then issued the following minute entry: Parties agree to proceed with trial on 11/30 assuming no jury concerns or issues. Court will verify the current CDC guideline and protocol and make sure that all counsel, staff, and jurors abide by that guideline prior to resuming trial. Parties agree to proceed with initial charge conference on 11/17/2020 by telephone with final conference by 11/20/2020. Upon resuming on 11/30/2020 the Court will allow each side a brief 10 minute summary due to trial delay.

Continue Reading

It’s Dangerous Out There: COVID-19 in Texas Court

The Eastern District of Texas has been steadfast in pushing forward with scheduled jury trials. Last week, a trial began before Judge Amos Mazzant in Sherman.  It has not concluded. Texas Lawyer reports: Multiple court participants, including a lawyer and juror, have become infected with COVID-19 during a federal jury trial, causing the judge to put the case on pause.   US District Judge Amos Mazzant of Sherman paused the jury trial upon learning of the first coronavirus diagnosis, which occurred sometime in the last 48 hours.   Because others involved in the trial are still getting tested for the virus, it’s not yet clear how many people in the trial became infected, said court clerk David O’Toole of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. He did confirm that multiple court participants became sick.   “At least one of them was a juror,” said O’Toole. “There was at least one lawyer involved who tested positive. We want to be...

Continue Reading

Texas Federal Jurors Ordered Not to Wear Masks

As we’ve noted previously, Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has been one of the judges most intent in carrying on. Judge Gilstrap's current procedure requires jurors and attorneys at counsel table to wear only face shields, not masks. In contrast, in the Western District of Texas, Judge Alan Albright in Waco permits jurors to wear masks. So far, there have not been reports of litigants or jurors using these procedures to make mischief, but the opportunity seems to be there.

Continue Reading

Different Approaches in Texas

The Supreme Court of Texas extended its ban on in-person jury trials until December 1, San Antonio’s Spectrum News reports: “Since jury trials have slowed significantly since March, it’s been nearly impossible for attorneys to do their job to the best of their abilities.” However, lawyers are doing their jobs in at least some federal courts. Yesterday Judge Rodney Gilstrap completed a six-day patent infringement trial in federal court in Marshall, Texas, with a $5 million verdict for the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s attorney said the court’s safety precautions made for a “very comfortable experience.” Law360 reports that lawyers and witnesses did not wear masks, but there was a plexiglass shield in front of the witness stand to protect court staff. This is at least the third pandemic jury trial Judge Gilstrap has conducted, with one, in August, resulting in a $506 million verdict.

Continue Reading

 McDermott’s litigation team monitors US courts as they reopen amid the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.

STAY CONNECTED

TOPICS

ARCHIVES