October 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 292

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October 18, 2021

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Texas, We Have A Problem: E-Filing In The Wild West

Hooray! Texas has e-filing!

In the Supreme Court.

In many of the intermediate appellate courts.

Even in many of the big city trial courts!

Nirvana has been reached. That's good right?

No, that's bad.

How?

Texas also has the most presumptively open regime of court records in the country. With a click of the mouse any Tom, Dick or Hacker can access the dirty laundry or private information that makes its way into the court records--either because it needs to be there to adjudicate the dispute or simply because of carelessness.

Uh, oh. That's bad, right?

No. That's good. We want our courts to be open. Star Chambers are not the hallmarks of free societies.

So it's complicated, then?

Yeah, you could say that. Here's the illustration I borrowed for a recent paper on the topic:

Before you become warm and fuzzy with abstract notions of democratic theory, I challenge you to get really practical:

  • Write down five entities that you owe money to, and write down how much you owe them. Don’t forget your mobile phone carrier and your electricity provider.
  • While you are at it, write down your full name, every name you have been known under, and your Social Security number.
  • How about your monthly mortgage payments, your cable bill, your insurance premiums?
  • Now the names and ages of your minor children.
  • Now publish all the information on the internet.

No? Why not? This information ought not be public? But that’s what it feels like to file for bankruptcy. 

This is the problem. Are there any solutions? Should the rules be changed? What should lawyers be doing to protect their clients and themselves? 

Copyright © 2021, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume I, Number 150
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About this Author

Kendall M. Gray, Antitrust Litigation Attorney, Andrews Kurth Law Firm
Partner

Kendall is a board certified civil appellate specialist who has represented clients in state and federal appellate courts such as the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Fifth, Ninth, Tenth and Federal Circuits, the Supreme Court of Texas and many intermediate courts of appeal. His practice includes a variety of complex commercial, medical malpractice and toxic tort matters, as well as a particular focus in disputes involving employee benefits, managed care and ERISA. The disputes commonly require complex written and oral advocacy on such topics as ERISA preemption,...

713-220-3981
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