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Texas Bar Journal




Have you ever noticed a gap in the publication of Texas Supreme Court decisions? Both the Harvard "Blue Book" and the University of Texas "Green Book" inform readers that opinions of the court from 1840 to 1844 (the Republic period) can be found in Dallam's Decisions, while decisions from 1846 on (statehood) are available in Texas Reports or the Southwestern Reporter. That's all very clear, but whatever happened to 1845? This article will supply half an answer to this question; perhaps some reader can provide the other half.

Three questions arise. The first, and simplest: Are there any 1845 opinions? The answer is "Yes." The Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas met in December of 1845, had a perfectly ordinary session, wrote more than 30 opinions, and adjourned on Jan. 5, 1846, to reconvene in the fall as the Supreme Court of the State of Texas.

That was the easy question. The second one is harder. Why weren't the opinions printed?

The last question is the hardest: Where are the 1845 decisions today?

It appears that opinions at this time were initially written in longhand by the judges or their clerks, then copied by the court clerk into a bound opinion book. This book is preserved in the State Archives, and does contain the full text, sometimes faint and faded, of 16 opinions.

As we said at the beginning, this article provides only half an answer to the question of what happened to the missing year of the Texas Supreme Court. Efforts are underway to arrange publication of all available opinions as a Texas Sesquicentennial project. If any reader has an idea or suggestion as to where the remaining opinions might be found, information would be gratefully received by James Hambleton, Director, State Law Library, Box 12367, Capitol Station, Austin 78711. Naturally, any confidences will be respected. A list of the missing opinions follows [.]

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State Bar of Texas

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