Texas Business Court Shaping Up With Judicial Appointments
June 17, 2024
By Katherine D. Hoke

Governor Greg Abbott has announced ten judicial appointments to oversee the first five divisions of the Texas Business Court created last year.

Business Court judges are required to have ten or more years of experience in complex civil business litigation, business transaction law, and/or as a civil court judge.

The initial appointments, subject to Senate approval, include:

First Business Court Division (Dallas):  Andrea Bouressa and William “Bill” Whitehill
Third Business Court Division (Austin):  Melissa Andrews and Patrick K. Sweeten
Fourth Business Court Division (San Antonio):  Marialyn Barnard and Stacy Sharp
Eighth Business Court Division (Fort Worth):  Jerry Bullard and Brian Stagner
Eleventh Business Court Division (Houston):  Sofia Adrogue and Grant Dorfman

Gov. Abbott appointed each of the divisional Business Court judges to two-year terms, commencing September 1, 2024, and expiring September 1, 2026.  Business Court judges may be re-appointed.

Appeals from the Business Court will be heard by the newly created Fifteenth Court of Appeals. Gov. Abbott has appointed Scott A. Brister, Scott Field, and April L. Farris as the inaugural members of the new court of appeals. The justices’ terms are effective September 1, 2024, and will expire on December 31, 2026, or until their successors are elected.

The Texas Business Court has (a) concurrent jurisdiction with district courts with respect to specific types of actions in which the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million or $10 million, as applicable, and (b) supplemental jurisdiction over certain claims related to a case or controversy within the Business Court’s jurisdiction. See Tex. Gov. Code, Sec. 25A.004. Business Court litigants have the right to an in-person jury trial.  Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 352-359 will govern practice and procedure in the Business Court. Notably, Business Court judges are required to issue written opinions on dispositive matters, at the request of a party, and on important issues.

Once up and running, the Texas Business Court is expected to provide a specialized forum to streamline the judicial process for resolving complex commercial disputes, utilizing experienced judges, and with greater predictability and consistency in outcomes to guide businesses in managing risk both inside and outside the courtroom.

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