Federal district courts have a practice of issuing what are referred to as “General Orders”, and I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss what those orders cover, as well as mention a recent one regarding courthouse security that takes effect in coming weeks.
United States District Judge Rodney Gilstrap will assume the position of Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Texas on Thursday, March 1, 2018. He will replace Chief Judge Ron Clark who will take senior status at that time. For those keeping track, that will mean that the district has four of its eight active judgeships filled, with two judges on senior status, both in the Beaumont Division. Three of the four vacancies have pending nominations.
The White House officially announced three judicial nominees for the Eastern District of Texas earlier today. The nominees are:
- Jeremy Kernodle of Dallas
- J. Campbell Barker of Austin
- Michael Truncale of Beaumont
The Eastern District currently has three vacancies in its eight judgeships, with two in Tyler and one in Plano, with a fourth coming in March when Chief Judge Ron Clark of Beaumont takes senior status.
As readers may recall, last year the White House nominated Jeff Mateer of Austin for the Plano slot, however his nomination was not resubmitted this month. As readers may also recall, last year former Dallas state court judge Karen Gren Scholer of Dallas was nominated by President Obama for the Plano spot. She was renominated by President Trump last year, but for a Northern District spot in Dallas, was voted out of committee October 26, and is waiting for a floor vote.
The U.S. Attorney picture is somewhat clearer – last year President Trump nominated Grayson County (that’s Sherman) district attorney Joe Brown. Joe has been voted out of Judiciary as well and is awaiting a floor vote.
The most recent batch of bimonthly patent case scheduling conferences was held earlier this week in Marshall, and as usual I have a brief rundown of the results.
While I was cavorting in Plano last week, the Court issued General Order 17-24, which is the annual revisions to the local rules. Public commentary regarding the local rule amendments is being accepted through Thursday, November 30 , 2017. Comments should be sent to
U.S. District Clerk David O’Toole
William Steger U.S. Courthouse, Room 106
211 West Ferguson St.
Tyler, TX 75702,
The rule amendments will be effective December 1, 2017 unless otherwise noted in the general order (so as to coincide with the FRCP amendments).
The two that will be of the most interest to practitioners will be those changing (1) the procedures for filing under seal; and (2) the procedures for summary judgment briefing, but there are a few others that deserve brief mention.
A few days ago I posted that the filings for patent cases in late September showed the Eastern District of Texas slightly ahead of Delaware over the last three weeks of the month. Turns out it was a false alarm.
After being neck and neck in recent days – the two districts were tied with 21 each two days ago, and earlier today were still tied at 27 – Delaware has now pulled comfortably ahead with 32. EDTX is a distant second at, uh, 31.
Here’s a law school hypothetical for you. Judicial panel with three appellate judges from different circuits and two district judges. District judge is speaking and one of the appellate judges’ flip phones started playing music. (Yes, flip phone).
Are sanctions available, which judge awards them, and does it matter if the accused judge’s circuit overlaps with the speaking judge?
There are about 400 lawyers in the audience that are all thinking exactly the same thing. Well, right after we thought (1) oh sh&t is that my phone?; and (2) that is just funny as hell.
Answer: My guess is yes, but it’s a totality of the circumstances test, Federal Circuit law applies, regardless of which circuit’s judge’s phone went off, and whatever the district judge does on sanctions will be held to be reversible error.
The afternoon’s session include panels on: Willful infringement & enhanced damages – with judges Bencivengo (SDCA), Bissoon (WDPA); Schroeder, Burke (DDE) and Love. IPRs – with Judge Roy Payne and an all star lineup of practitioners. Early damages disclosures in ND Cal Using jury research – with Judge Zack Hawthorn. Tips & Traps for deposing expert witnesses After the final session we have the president and chief judge’s reception and dinner, which features the year’s recognitions and awards, and entertainment by the Bar & Grill Singers from Texas.
Friday is another busy day at the bench/bar, with sessions on:
Federal Circuit – Judge Stoll is here and presented on how the CAFC works.
Venue Considerations When Filing Patent Cases – including heckling from NDTX chief judge Barbara Lynn when the chart didn’t accurately reflect the shape of her district. Another high spot was the ______ Rule (due to Chatham House rules I can’t credit Jeff Bragalone with this rule) which states that whether consolidation of cases is permitted depending on whether the accused products are in the same aisle at Walmart. Great observation.
Corporate reporesentatives at trial in EDTX (or, why do people bring a complete jerk to trial as their corporate witness?)
IPR and Prosecution bars – featuring Dallas PTO regional office director Hope Shimabuku.
Damages in Patent Cases
Patent Pilot Cases – Yes or Nay? – this panel is moderated by Judge Cabranes from the Second Circuit, and includes Judges Costa (5Cir) Stoll (CAFC), and Clark and Gilstrap from EDTX.
Next up is a presentation on and panel discussion about millennial (you know, those obnoxious kids?)
And the conference concludes with a panel on cyber attacks on law firms.
It’s been a great three days, including the district’s farewell of sorts to Chief Judge Ron Clark last night. Judge Clark is taking senior status March 1 of next year, so while he will remain active handling cases as a senior judge, this is his last conference as chief judge, and he was recognized with a framed certificate and a magnificent collectible pistol with his name, title and the district’s seal on the ivory grip. (I’ll post photos when the conference photos are out). EDTX Bar president Bo Davis hastened to tell the audience that the grip was not – as it appeared to be – from an endangered species, but was instead from an extinct species. Well alright then.