The Texas Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee will be meeting Friday, January 27th and Saturday, January 28th to discuss–among other things–the proposal that the Court’s task force has assembled to implement House Bill 274. In relevant part, House Bill 274 requires the Court to adopt rules for a "prompt, efficient, and cost-effective resolution of civil actions" for claims that do not exceed $100,000. The house bill provides that the rules to be adopted must address the procedure for "ensuring that these actions will be expedited in the civil justice system." So why would the task force propose a rule that all but eliminates an appeal except in the narrowest of circumstances? That doesn’t sound like a procedure for expediting an appeal.
The Task Force has presented proposed Rules 262.4 and 262.5. Proposed subparagraph 262.5(e) deals with appeals and would allow for an appeal in a case under the expedited jury trial process only in (1) cases of judicial misconduct, (2) jury misconduct, (3) corruption, fraud, or undue means that prevented a fair trial, or (4) summary judgments. In other words, no challenges to factual or legal sufficiency. No challenges to jury charges. No challenges to the form of the judgment. Is this procedure expediting an appeal, or eliminating an appeal? I thought perhaps that there was some definition of "expedite" that I was missing, so I looked it up to make sure. Nope. But I did find it interesting that some thesauruses list "block," "cease," "curtail," and "halt" as antonyms of expedite. I have to wonder how many of my clients will realize or understand that they are essentially giving up their appellate rights to challenge the outcome by agreeing to the expedited process.