Texas has an unusual
appeals process for judicial cases. District courts, where trials on matters of
fact are held, are separated into different types according to the kind of
cases they hear. You may notice when you vote in county elections, there are
civil courts, criminal courts, probate courts, family courts, etc.
All these cases are
appealed to a court that has jurisdiction in all of those areas. The First and
Fourteenth Courts of Appeals, which meet in Houston, hear all kinds of criminal
and civil cases.
After that, however, the
process splits again. Criminal cases go to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Civil cases go to the Texas Supreme Court.
Go the Texas Supreme
Court website: http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/
Use the "case
search" feature to find a case called "Del Lago Partners, Inc. and
Del Lago Partners, L.P., d/b/a Del Lago Golf Resort & Conference Center,
and BMC-The Benchmark Management Co. v. Bradley Smith, No.
06-1022.:"(or - a really easy way to get directly to the case is with this
link: http://data.scotxblog.com/scotx/no/06-1022 )
This case involves a
wedding party and the second night of a three-day college fraternity reunion
that were held at the same time in the same bar. As you can imagine, this
didn't end well for anybody except the lawyers. Read the majority opinion, and
the three dissenting opinions by judges who disagreed with this 6-3 decision.
How much responsibility
does a restaurant or bar have to prevent fights? The owner has some duty to customers
and a somewhat greater duty than other business owners because he holds a
license to serve alcoholic beverages. On the other hand, shouldn't we blame the
fighters, rather than the owner of the establishment where the fight occurred?
Write a 3-5 pages essay
explaining the basic facts of the case and who was suing whom. Explain who won (the court case, not the bar fight) and
why the majority decided that way. Explain why three judges disagreed. Finally,
if you were a Texas Supreme Court justice, how would you rule in this case?