The Courts Issues

Eye on Texas Blog

SCOTX Justice Let Off the Hook

Nathan Hecht

SCOTX Justice Nathan Hecht

In 2008, the Texas Ethics Commission found that Justice Nathan Hecht violated state ethics laws.

Today, Hecht was let off the hook.

After reviewing a complaint filed by Texas Watch, the ethics commission determined that Hecht improperly accepted a six-figure discount on legal expenses. The TEC ruled the discount was a campaign donation that exceeded contribution limits for judicial candidates and was not reported on campaign finance filings. They fined him $29,000. Hecht appealed the ruling to state court where it languished for seven years.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Hecht and the TEC have settled the matter. Hecht’s fine will be slashed from $29,000 to just $1,000.

“Nathan Hecht is being let off the hook. Pure and simple,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch. “This saga makes a mockery of so-called ethics ‘enforcement’. Apparently, the way high ranking officials can beat the rap is to simply delay the process indefinitely.”

A brief timeline of the case:

Eye on Texas Blog

Perry’s Lame Health Care Retort

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Former Gov. Rick Perry lamely defended his record on access to health care. When pressed about our state’s chronically high rate of citizens without health insurance, Perry said that isn’t how he “keeps score.” He trotted out the same, tired talking points touting what he calls “sweeping tort reforms” passed more than a decade ago. Perry ignores key facts about the failure of these so-called “reforms” to improve the overall health or safety of Texas patients. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Preserve Policyholder Protections

Policyholders pay premiums in exchange for a promise from their insurance company that claims will be paid in full and on time. Too often insurers fail to hold up their end of the bargain by unfairly denying, delaying, or underpaying valid claims. That’s why strong laws with stiff penalties – like those that have been codified in the Insurance Code for decades – are necessary to deter bad conduct.

However, Senate Bill 1628 gives to industry and takes from policyholders. This legislation is currently being debated by the Texas Legislature. Take action now to stop this dangerous bill.


Texas Tells Podcast

Episode One: The Heart and Lungs of Freedom


Created by citizen advocacy organization Texas Watch,“Texas Tells” broadcasts the untold stories of Texas families and consumers. The monthly podcast seeks to educate and empower Texans through citizen profiles, updates on state government action, and interviews with local officials.

Episode one: How has so-called tort “reform” affected our 7th amendment right to a trial by jury? Texas Watch’s Ware Wendell will talk to us about that fundamental right, faith, free enterprise, and the founding fathers.

Eye on Texas Blog

Safe Texas Agenda

As our state’s economy thrives and our population booms, Texas families and communities face new threats to their physical and financial safety. We call on lawmakers to take steps during the 84th Legislature to help Texans thrive in our Texas economy by adopting a Safe Texas Agenda.

“The freedom to raise a family, build a business, and thrive in the Texas economy is only possible if our citizens’ physical and financial safety is protected,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of the citizen advocacy group Texas Watch. “So, priority one for lawmakers should be to adopt common sense steps to put the safety of Texas families and small business owners first.” (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

VIDEO: No Justice for Texas Families

Check out this short video produced by the Center for American Progress. Using personal stories of everyday Texans, it powerfully demonstrates the devastating impact severe restrictions on access to our courts have had on families from every corner of our state. The film features Texas Watch citizen activists, as well as our Executive Director Alex Winslow.

After you watch the video, help us spread the word by sharing it on Facebook and Twitter.

Eye on Texas Blog, Press Releases

SCOTX Devastates Workers Poisoned by Asbestos

A sharply divided Supreme Court of Texas handed down an opinion today that is devastating for workers exposed to cancer-causing asbestos. In Bostic v. Georgia-Pacific, the Court creates an exceptionally high causation standard for asbestos-related cancer cases, effectively blocking many workers and their families from having their day in court. (See Case No. 10-0775, majority, concurrence, dissent.)

Alex Winslow, Executive Director of Texas Watch, a citizen advocacy organization active on civil justice issues, stated:

“The Texas Supreme Court is closing the courthouse doors for workers who are going to die a terrible death simply because they showed up for work and did their job. This decision breaks the promise of meaningful accountability for workers who, through no fault of their own, were poisoned by asbestos-laden products. In the words of Justice Lehrmann, this opinion ‘does not just offend logic – it offends justice.'” (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog, Latest Headlines

News of the Week: Aftermath of West, Nursing Home Abuse, SCOTUS Eroding Corporate Accountability

In this edition of the News of the Week: Senators take testimony on the response to the West disaster, the State Fire Marshal issues a report detailing ways to improve safety after West, nursing home residents face abuse and neglect at an alarming rate with little recourse for repeat offenders, and a video about the importance of class action lawsuits in protecting consumers. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Special Interest PAC Can’t Handle the Truth

Access to the civil justice system is a fundamental right. It is embedded in our constitution because no one is above the law and everyone should be held to account for their actions.

But, the folks over at the self-styled Texans for Lawsuit Reform’s PAC of CEOs and lobbyists just can’t seem to understand that.

In an effort to reinforce their failing agenda and scare candidates away from supporting meaningful accountability reforms that help Texas families and small businesses, TLR has released the “results” of a new push-poll that conveniently ignores the impact of their agenda on everyday Texans. Instead they attack lawyers … again.


Because they have no other option. The fact is that the vast majority of Texans believe they should have access to our courts when they are harmed. And, they want to be able to hire an attorney to represent their interests. Particularly when an insurance company treats them unfairly. (more…)

Research & Reports
Research & Reports

The Texas Watch Foundation, a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization, conducts research and public education activities on consumer law, consumer protection and civil justice issues. Read More »

Court Watch
Court Watch

Court Watch, a program of the Foundation, documents the role and impact of the Texas civil court system on Texas families and Texas public policy. Read More »