Yesterday’s Senate Judiciary committee hearing presided over by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas included the remaining two nominations for the Eastern District of Texas, J. Campbell Barker and Jeremy Kernodle. All three nominees for the four vacancies in the EDTX have had their hearings now. I’ll post as information becomes available on committee and floor votes.
Who attends mediation for a client is a decision that has to take into account several requirements. There are the local rules requiring mediation, the Court’s orders requiring mediation, either in general, specific to a case or really really specific to a case, i.e. Ms. X is required to attend, and perhaps a mediator’s suggestions or requirements as far as who should be there. While the requirements regarding attendance of clients have always been fairly concrete and contemplate usually a single key person with a certain level of authority, the requirements regarding counsel have not always been beyond the attendance of lead counsel, but a major recent development changes that in a lot of cases.
Joseph D. Brown was sworn in as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas on February 26, 2018, but had his formal administration of the oath at the Paul Brown (Joe’s uncle) courthouse in Sherman last Friday, April 13. Mr. Brown serves as the chief federal law enforcement officer in the Eastern District of Texas, an area covering 43 counties with a population of more than 3.5 million.
Prior to his appointment as United States Attorney, Mr. Brown served for 17 years as the elected Criminal District Attorney of Grayson County, Texas. From 2009 to 2014 he served as a board member of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department where he helped to oversee the administration of Texas’ juvenile prison and probation system.
He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in Government and received his juris doctorate degree from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.
Following his formal swearing in, many attendees headed to my partner Clyde Siebman’s ranch in Oklahoma for the First Annual Northeast Texas Southeast Oklahoma Regional Rendezvous Honoring Law Enforcement, which was sponsored by the North Texas Crime Commission, Judge Paul Brown American Inn of Court, Eastern District of Texas Bar Association and Women Lawyers of the Eastern District of Texas. Invited guests include the U.S.Attorneys for the Eastern District of Texas and the Eastern District of Oklahoma, North Texas/Oklahoma Federal SACs; District Attorneys, County Sheriffs, OSBI and Texas Rangers of the Red River Valley, as well as other honored guests.
U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap had an unusual ceremony in his courtroom Friday. Called to an unscheduled hearing about an unidentified confidential matter, he was asked to “unseal the courtroom,” allowing the bailiff to open the doors to the public, which included his staff, courthouse employees and colleagues. The judge was then told that there was a “jury of his peers” waiting in the jury room, and when he invited the jury to enter, his wife led a crew of Baylor law school alumni and Gilstrap’s current and former colleagues on the EDTX bench, accompanied by the Baylor fight song. (No, seriously). They included former EDTX judges David Folsom and T. John Ward; Clerk of Court David O’Toole; Texarkana EDTX judge Trey Schroeder; Marshall’s Magistrate Judge Roy Payne, and Lufkin trial lawyer George Chandler, as well as Baylor Law’s dean Brad Toben by satellite.
The reason that Judge Ward and George Chandler were in the room was for the announcement was that Judge Gilstrap would join them as a recipient of the Baylor “Lawyer of the Year” award. The award began in 1961, making Judge Gilstrap the 58th Baylor Lawyer of the Year.” Other past recipients of the award from the EDTX include the late former Marshall EDTX Judge Sam B. Hall, Jr. in 1992, and former Tyler EDTX Judge Leonard Davis more recently. For trivia buffs, it also means that the late Marshall lawyer Ernest Smith (no relation) now has two former partners, Judge Hall and Judge Gilstrap, who have been named Baylor Lawyer of the Year.
The recipient of the award is selected annually by the Baylor Law Alumni Association executive committee. The award is the highest honor given by the association, and is given to an outstanding alumnus who has brought honor and distinction to the Law School and to the legal profession. Criteria for recipients include legal accomplishment, involvement and service in the profession and active interest in Baylor Law.
Dean Toben told the assembled group that he likes to characterize it as a Baylor lawyer who is bright, a model of integrity, and one who illustrates through their life and service a sense of compassion, empathy, and an ability to reach out to others. He said it’s also someone who has a servant-led life that is influenced by faith. He also noted that Judge Gilstrap’s colleagues have established a scholarship at Baylor Law School to benefit deserving students, in perpetuity.
Congratulations to Judge Gilstrap, and we’re all looking forward to the traditional dinner later this spring commemorating the honoree.
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.