In a case that tells Texas judges about the reasons they may sanction attorneys, the Texas Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a court couldn’t sanction Dallas litigator Bill Brewer because he did not act in bad faith when he commissioned a telephone survey before a trial in a major commercial litigation matter.

The 7-1 majority ruling in Brewer v. Lennox Hearth Products sets a new precedent across Texas that says trial courts must find a lawyer or litigant acted in bad faith before judges can issue sanctions under a court’s inherent authority.

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