Ditch the Dolly
Although lawyers report mixed reactions about having to electronically file their court documents, at least one appellate lawyer is happy about a different e-filing mandate. When the Texas Supreme Court issued its final e-filing rules in mid-December 2013, it also mandated that court clerks and court reporters must electronically file their records in appellate courts using the Texas Appeals Management and E-filing System. TAMES is a case management system for the high court and the 14 intermediate appellate courts. Later this year, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will begin using it. Dallas appellate solo Jeffrey Levinger, chairman of the State Bar of Texas Appellate Section, said he likes getting electronic clerks’ and court reporters’ records.”You gotta compare it to the old way of doing it, when they filed hard copies and you’d have to go down and pick up the record. In Dallas, the record would be sealed, and it would make it hard to copy. You’d almost have to copy it page-by-page,” said Levinger. “Now, with the electronic record, you send someone down to get a disc, and you can do what you want with the disc: You can upload it to the computer or print it out.” Levinger explained that the clerk’s record consists of the pleadings that a lawyer designates for an appeal, while the reporter’s record provides the transcripts of hearings and the trial.”Some can be as short as one volume of clerk’s record and no reporter’s record. But I had one recently that was a 72-volume reporter’s record and a 20-volume clerk’s record,” he noted. That could be a “good chunk of paper,” considering that just one volume reflecting just one day of trial could be up to 300 pages, he said. When asked whether having electronic records saves lawyers money, Levinger replied, “I’m sure it does, because a lot of them will just use it right off their computer. I’m old-fashioned: I like to print it out.”
Cameras in the Court #TLtbt
This week, a coalition of media and public interest groups sent a letter urging U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to allow cameras to record and broadcast high court proceedings. The letter cited transparency, education and civic benefit among reasons for opening the court to broadcasts. “Video would provide an important civic benefit, as it would be an incredible platform for legal education and future students of history, rhetoric and political science,” the letter reads. Here in the Lone Star State, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett threw his support behind opening the court to cameras when he was asked for his thoughts on Twitter. “@sundance0272 I favor opening up High Court proceedings to cameras. My Court has webcast successfully for several years. #SCOTX @TheNLJ,” he said. In 2007, SCOTX partnered with St. Mary’s University School of Law to provide the equipment and personnel to begin live-stream proceedings online. Attorneys representing parties in SSP Partners andMetro Novelties Inc. v. Gladstrong Investments (USA) Corp., the first case scheduled for webcasting, told Texas Lawyer in 2007 that the cameras might add additional pressure, but otherwise they spoke favorably of them. “From a practical standpoint, it’s wonderful,” said Jennifer Henderson at the time. She represented SSP Partners, and the case was to be her first argument before the high court. “From a personal standpoint, it does add that extra element of pressure,” she said. SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia told C-Span in 2012 that he favored cameras in proceedings when he first joined the court but has since changed his stance. “I am against it because I do not believe, as the proponents of television in the Court assert, that the purpose of televising our hearings would be educate the American people. That’s not what it would end up doing,” he said. “Your outfit would carry it all, to be sure, but what most of the American people would see would be 30 second, 15 second takeouts from our argument and those takeouts would not be characteristic of what we do. They would be uncharacteristic,” he said. The Supremes have spoken, but where do you land on the issue? Tell us via #TLtbt.
Marketing the Firm
Like other firms in Texas, King & Spalding is vying for business from energy companies, and the firm launched an online Energy Law Exchange on March 11 as a resource for clients. The website grew out of the firm’s three-year-old energy newsletter, which was started by Charles “Tim” Engel, a Washington, D.C.-based partner in the firm’s business litigation and energy practice groups. King & Spalding is based in Atlanta but counts Austin and Houston among its 17 offices. Engel said 130 King & Spalding lawyers have written articles over the last three years about developments in energy law and business in all sectors of energy law, and 250 of those articles are posted on the Energy Law Exchange. “What the Energy Law Exchange does is to catalog those articles into practice areas, geographic regions and the like to provide access to those interested, [and it also has] an ability to provide news alerts,” Engel said. He noted the newsletter he started three years ago still will go out to clients. The firm also operates a Directors Governance Center website. “It helps to grow the brand of the firm,” he said.