MEMBERSHIP OF THE 3RD COURT OF APPEALS
IN AUSTIN, TX
Place 1: Chief Justice: Woody Jones
Elected 2008 - 6 year term ends 12/31/2014
Place 2: Justice Jeff L. Rose
Place 3: Justice Diane Henson
2008 Henson Opinions
6 year term ends 12/31/12
Place 4: Justice Melissa Goodwin (elected 2010)
Place 5: Justice David Puryear
2008 Puryear Opinions
6 year term ends 12/31/12
Place 6: Justice Bob Pemberton
2008 Opinions by Justice Pemberton
6 year term ends 12/31/12
VISITING JUSTICE(S) IN FY 2008:
Justice John F. Onion, Jr.
BIOGRAPHY OF CHIEF JUSTICE
Chief Justice J. Woodfin "Woodie" Jones (Text of official biography)
Chief Justice J. Woodfin “Woodie” Jones received his J.D. degree from the University of Texas Law School in
1975 and earned an LL.M. degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995. He received his B.A. in
Plan II from the University of Texas at Austin in 1972, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa academic
After law school, he served as Briefing Attorney for Chief Justice J. Curtiss Brown of the Fourteenth Court of
Appeals in Houston. He practiced business litigation with the firm of Bracewell & Patterson in Houston from
1976 to 1981 and with Sneed, Vine, Wilkerson, Selman & Perry in Austin from 1981 to 1988.
A former president of the Austin Bar Association, Chief Justice Jones was first elected as a Justice on the Third
Court of Appeals in Austin in 1988, serving until the end of 2000. After leaving the bench, he became a partner
with the Austin firm of Scott, Douglass & McConnico. In 2003 he cofounded the appellate firm of Alexander
Dubose Jones & Townsend. He was elected Chief Justice of the Third Court of Appeals in 2008.
Chief Justice Jones is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and was
selected as a “Texas Super Lawyer” in the area of appellate law by Texas Monthly Magazine each of the years
2004 through 2008. He is also a Life Fellow in the Texas Bar Foundation. He has been a frequent speaker and
author for continuing legal education programs, most often in the areas of judicial decision-making and
THE AUSTIN COURT OF APPEALS IN NUMBERS:
CASELOAD AND OPINION PRODUCTION (FY 2008)
In Fiscal Year ending Aug. 31, 2008 (FY 2008), the Third Court of Appeals handed down 965
opinion, 618 of which were designated for publication and 347 as "not published". Regardless,
virtually all opinions are available on the court's website. Therefore, there are no unpublished
opinions in the ordinary sense of the term. The main difference is that the "published" opinions
get published in the Southwestern Reporter and thus get a ___ S.W.3d ___ number assigned to
them, and are cited more frequently than the "unpublished" opinions, which are still cited, albeit,
with lesser frequency with numbers assigned by Westlaw or Lexis-Nexis. (Given that all opinion
have an appellate cause number and a release date, it would make more sense to cite them by
cause number and date, since the public has access to the court's website, whereas access to
Westlaw and Lexis is much more limited, even among members of the bar. Another advantage is
that cause number alone is usually sufficient to find the appellate docket sheet by simply
googling it. (The failsafe method is to enter the components of the number in the three boxes on
the court's case search screen.) Once the vistitor has arrived at the docket sheet, he or she can
review the chronological history of the case in the court of appeals and simply follow the link to
the opinion (or opinions) issued in the case, which are available both in html and in pdf format.)
582 of the Third Court of Appeals' output of opinions were classified as "Original Opinions On the
Merits" and 91 as "per curiam." These are not mutually exclusive categories. Nor do the two
categories cover all the opinons that were issued.
The Third Court's statistics may not be fully comparable with other courts, because the Austin
court issues some routine opinions as signed opinions, issues opinions on procedural rulings in
addition to opinions that dispose of the case, and reports a large number of opinions as
"opinions dismissing appeal" that some other courts of appeals include in "per curiam" category.
The Third Court also issues 9 opinions granting rehearing, which is remarkable because it is
rare. Because there were only 19 such opinions statewide, the Austin Court of Appeals
accounted for 50%. Most of the other intermediate courts of appeal issued no such opinions. It is
also rare in the Texas Supreme Court.
The composition of the Austin Court of Appeals' caseload is also unique because its
geographical jurisdiction includes Travis County, in which much litigation involving state
governmental agencies takes place because of venue rules for such suits. Thus, the Court is the
leading appellate voice on administrative rules and law, and the related legal issues, subject - of
course - to review by the Texas Supreme Court, which is also located in Austin, just a few blocks
away from the building that houses the Third Court of Appeals.
The number of opinions reported for each member of the court varies considerably. However, in
the absence of a mere elaborate analysis of the substance of the underlying opinions, or at least
their length in pages (or word-count), the aggregate annual figures may not be an accurate
measure of justices' comparative contributions to the Third Court's jurisprudence. Be that as it
may, the annual output ranges from 125 (Chief Justice Ken Law, since replaced by election) to
194 for Justice Jan Patterson at the other end of the productivity spectrum. Justice Bob
Pemberton comes in close behind with 191 to his name. Nine opinions were written by the sole
visiting appellate judge in FY 2008, Justice John F. Onion, Jr..
Comparing Justices' relative performance by category, the pattern is similar. At the low end, Chief
Justice Ken Law delivered 65 opinions labeled "on the merits". On the high end Pemberton wrote
133, whereas Patterson scored second with 114.
One of the most interesting aspects for court watchers and appellate attorneys are the patterns
of disagreement among the members of the court. There are stark differences among the six
justices in this court: Ken Law and David Puryear only wrote one dissenting opinion each in
FY2008; Puryear also penned a concurrence. At the other end of the scale, Jan Patterson and
Diane Henson distinguished themselves with an independent streak. Henson dissented on 20
occasions while Patterson wrote 11 dissenting opinions and a like number of concurrences, for a
total of 22 separate opinions in cases in which she found herself at odds with her peers.
Pemberton wrote three concurrences and three dissents; Alan Waldrop delivered two concurring
opinions and 4 dissents, for the same total of six separate opinions.
SOURCE: Annual Statistical Report for the Texas Judiciary Fiscal Year 2008
PAGE LAST UPDATED: 9/26/11