Federal Judge Dissents From… Her Own Opinion

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Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit appears to be having a bit of an identity crisis.

In Stratta & Fazzino v. Roe et al., Judge Jones wrote for the majority in holding that the district court erred in dismissing the claims of landowners against a government body for allegedly stealing groundwater. One claim that the Judge Jones-authored opinion blessed as correctly dismissed was a First Amendment claim raised by one of the landowners, who is also a member of the Board of the defendant agency, over not being allowed to raise his complaints at a public meeting. And Judge Jones does not agree at all with what Judge Jones wrote:

I respectfully dissent from the majority’s conclusion that Stratta was not permitted under § 551.042(a)-(b) to inquire about a new subject for the limited purpose of placing that subject on the agenda for a subsequent meeting.

Now… obviously what went down here is that something changed between the beginning of the drafting process and the final publication of the opinion. But that’s usually when courts issue a per curiam opinion and just call it a day. What’s the value in keeping your name on an opinion that you’re going to dissent from anyway?

But the important thing is that the federal judiciary is keeping the law as straightforward and easy to decipher as possible, am I right?

(Full opinion on the next page.)

HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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