Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Texas Supreme Court's Pro Bono Jurisprudence Belies Charges of Bias


Garrett vs. Borden (Tex. 2009) (per curiam)

Who said only big business, insurance companies, and government defendants win in the Texas Supreme Court? - Supremos issue another procedural mercy ruling in a prisoner's pro se IFP suit, okaying handwritten verbatim copy of inmate grievance decision in lieu of photocopy to satisfy requirement for judicial review (exhaustion of administrative remedies). Justice Brister did not even write a dissent.

In a previous case, the Supremos agreed to apply the mailbox rule to prisoner's filing although prisoner did not have access to a receptacle for outgoing mail maintained and operated by the U.S. Postal Service.

It will not make much of a difference since prisoners routinely lose their suits anyway, but a ruling in favor of an inmate litigant can help boost Court's legitimacy by creating the appearance that those at the bottom rungs of society have a fair shot at justice too, while not giving anything away substantively.

But that's not the only bonus that comes along with jurisprudential charity on access-to-justice issues. The latest opinion will also provide occasion for the Chief to tout the success of the new Pro Bono Referral Program, which not only curbs pro se pleading excessess - not to mention hand-written "briefs" - but also affords volunteer lawyers opportunities to gain or enhance supreme appellate experience.

Charity not only for writ writer riff-raff.

Charity with a purpose!

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