Texas Supreme Court, No. 12-0636 (November 1, 2013)
Per Curiam Opinion
A writ of mandamus must be directed to someone, usually the official who took the action complained of. The Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure provide guidance for the situation in which a judge has “ceased to hold office:” an original proceeding against that judge must be abated to allow the successor to reconsider the original judge’s decision. But the rules do not address scenarios in which the case has been re-assigned through some other means after the complained-of act, such as recusal. Courts of appeals have taken varying approaches, some denying the petition, some abating the proceeding, and some substituting the successor judge as respondent. The Supreme Court held in this case that an appellate court presented with a mandamus petition against a judge who has been recused should either deny the petition or abate the proceeding, exercising discretion to determine which of the two approaches affords the more efficient manner of resolving the dispute. The Court opted in this case for abatement and directed the trial judge now assigned to the case to reconsider the order at issue.