This is encouraging.
Faced with a tidal wave of legal protests, the Texas Supreme Court Friday agreed to reconsider a California woman’s lawsuit that ended in a controversial ruling last November that left public access to some beaches in question.
The court’s decision to reopen the Carole Severance case — oral arguments will begin April 19 — came at the behest of Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
Harris County and the city of Galveston joined 18 other area counties, cities and chambers of commerce in submitting friend of the court briefs supporting Patterson.
“This is nothing less than a second chance for the Texas Open Beaches Act,” Patterson said in a statement. “Public access to the beach is a Texas tradition that predates the Republic. Today’s decision by the court to take another look at its decision in this case is great news.”
Houston lawyer Barry Abrams, who acted as outside counsel for the city of Galveston in filing an amicus brief, credited the “fire storm of controversy” and the large number of entities filing briefs supporting Patterson with convincing the court to revisit its ruling.
“Hopefully,” he said, “this will reaffirm the public’s long-honored rights to use coastal beaches that the prior decision disrupted.”
See here, here, here, and here for some background. According to the Statesman’s Austin Legal blog, “Motions to rehear are rarely granted and hard to decipher, sometimes resulting in changed rulings, sometimes in nothing more than minor factual or technical corrections to the original opinion.” As such, no one should get their hopes up too much just yet. It’s nice to see, but it may turn out to be nothing.