St. Mary's Law Journal
Economic necessity, expanding dockets, and judicial bias and unfairness are reasons for removing summary judgement practice from declaratory judgment trials in Texas. The Texas Supreme Court adopted the summary judgment rule primarily to prevent juries from considering arguably groundless causes, to reduce costs, and to increase "the efficient administration of justice." The Texas Supreme Court could prevent summary judgment practice in declaratory judgment cases.
Texas's judges have the power to decide questions of fact and law when considering whether to award declaratory relief, negating the perceived need to entertain motions for summary relief. Trial judges must employ those doctrines to interpret insureds' and insurers' duties and rights under liability and indemnity insurance contracts. Courts cavalierly or intentionally apply summary judgment rules automatically and quite inappropriately to achieve an outcome. Judges should consider former Texas Supreme Court justices' arguments about the pitfalls, dangers, and cavalier use of summary judgment practice. And more importantly, the summary judgement practice should be abolished from declaratory judgement trials in Texas.
Willy E. Rice, Questionable Summary Judgments, Appearances of Judicial Bias, and Insurance Defense in Texas Declaratory-Judgment Trials: A Proposal and Arguments for Revising Texas Rules of Civil Procedure 166a(a), 166a(b), and 166a(i),