Texas Supreme Court needed voters' permission to travel
Feb. 15, 2017 at 4 a.m.
The Texas Constitution provided a venue for the state's highest civil court — Austin. But it was not always thus.
"Way back, they actually travelled to three different places, and one of them was Tyler," said John Coppedge, a recognized authority on the state judiciary. "But, we're talking the 1800s."
That changed under the 1876 rewrite of the state's guiding document, and the Texas Supreme Court faithfully conducted its hearings from then on in the state's capital.
Justices arriving for their Longview session Thursday said, though, they believe the court remains something of a mystery to anyone who hasn't joined them in their home venue on 14th Street in Austin.
That sentiment is a large part of the reason for ventures away from Austin. And the voting public agreed.
"It took a constitutional amendment to allow them to do it," Coppedge said. "They've been doing this about 20 years, going out to areas."
The court has been to Longview before, though no one who was asked can pin down the date beyond placing it in the late 1990s or early 2000s.
That local session was shared with Tyler — one day there, one day in Pine Tree High School's auditorium. The occasion filled the high school hall with students from around the region and a small army of lawyers, paralegals and staff members.
Turnout was healthy, easily topping 300.
"It's not going to top this one," Nadine Schneider, administrative assistant to the court, said of that shared Longview/Tyer venue. "You may have the winner (as far as attendance)."
Schneider recalled a pronounced Longview/Tyler rivalry revealed during that trip to East Texas.
"I didn't know that until our very first trip," she said. "We actually had to stay in a hotel in Tyler and stay in a hotel in Longview. It was requested of us to do that."