Coale Mind-logo

Coale Mind

News & Politics Podcasts

Hosted by leading Texas appellate lawyer David Coale, each "Coale Mind" episode offers concise, lively, and practical exploration of today's hot-button constitutional issues.


United States


Hosted by leading Texas appellate lawyer David Coale, each "Coale Mind" episode offers concise, lively, and practical exploration of today's hot-button constitutional issues.








What is the Fifteenth Court's Precedent?

With apologies for the pun, the Fifteenth Court of Appeals faces an “unprecedented” situation. Unlike the other intermediate courts of appeal in Texas, the newly created Fifteenth Court of Appeals has no immediate predecessor. The Legislature gave it statewide jurisdiction over specific kinds of cases, as opposed to general jurisdiction over cases from a particular geographic area. As a result, that court does not start with an “inherited” body of precedent. The Fifteenth Court thus faces a novel—and fundamental—question: what is its precedent? This episode examines five sources of insight for answering that question: (1) English common law (as defined by a Texas statute dating back to the Republic); (2) “vertical” precedent, as described by a 2022 supreme court case; (3) federal practice about the Erie doctrine; (4) generally recognized conflicts-of-laws principles; and (5) historical examples from the 1840s, when the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas confronted a similar problem with a lack of precedent.


How Good is Generative AI? ChatGPT and I Co-Author a Tale

About a year ago, in a popular episode I had ChatGPT as my guest, and we discussed several issues of the day. To start this year off right, I invited ChatGPT back—now updated to version 4.0—and asked it to prepare a short story for listeners to enjoy. Specifically, I asked it to prepare a “noir” story, in the style of Raymond Chandler and his immortal private eye Philip Marlowe, but set in a courtroom and involving lawyers. Here it is. The characters and plot—such as they are—are entirely of ChatGPT’s making. I gave ChatGPT the initial prompt to get it started and then had it rewrite several paragraphs for additional detail and continuity. I did only minimal style editing. Again, I think that the resulting product shows some things that ChatGPT does very well—and some others, that at least for now, it does not do well at all.


Can the Texas Supreme Court do that? "Adminstrative stays" in the state courts of Texas

In mid-December of 2023, the Texas Supreme Court resolved a high-profile abortion case in which a woman sought an emergency injunction to immunize her health-care providers from liability under Texas's strong anti-abortion laws. During the brief time that the matter was before that Court, it issued an “administrative stay” against further enforcement of the relevant court order. This episode considers the history of the “administrative stay” concept in federal court, where it originated and is reasonably well-developed, and then examines how well that federal-court concept transfers into the Texas state system. It concludes by urging cautious use of this tool, in order to properly balance the power of central and local courts as envisioned by Texas's highly decentralized constitution of 1876.


University Presidents, Calls for Genocide, and Aristotle

While the furor over recent Congressional testimony by three prominent university presidents has died down somwhat (after the president of the University of Pennsylvania resigned), there are still important lessons to be learned from what went so badly wrong. In this episode, I consider how the presidents (and their litigation counsel) could have used Aristotle's three principles for successful communication (the balancing of ethos, pathos, and logos) to craft a more persuasive message ... and at least, avoid a public-relations disaster.


Jury Consultant Jason Bloom Returns - The "New Normal" of Jury Selection for 2024

Favorite guest Jason Bloom, one of the country's most respected jury consultants, returns to offer his insights on jury selection for 2024 (and with them, insight on how our modern society makes decisions). Topics include the (overwhelming) effect of social media, the legacy of the pandemic and the concern it left jurors with about corporate "accountability" -- and his new book! I think you'll find this to be our most informative and practically useful conversation yet.


How to Fix Political-Candidate Debates

I recently watched the second televised debate among Republican candidates for President and was disappointed by the conduct of those proceedings—they were hard to follow and offered little useful information. In today’s episode, I draw on my experiences in competitive debate and business litigation to offer two ideas for improvement: (1) requiring some portion to be recorded in advance, and (2) empowering moderators to have a realistic ability to flip a kill switch and turn off a participant’s microphone.


Slavery and the Republic of Texas Supreme Court: What Can we Learn?

Back during the pandemic, I got a copy of "Dallam's Decisions." It’s a one-volume work with all the opinions of the short-lived Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas (1840-45, give or take). It’s fascinating stuff, some of that court’s work is terrible, and some is really insightful. I wrote down some notes about the three cases from that court dealing with slavery, and recently got around to spinning those notes out into a short article. That article just came out in the “Journal of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society,” a link is here, starting on page 75. It looks at three cases, I think those cases offer some good insights about our world as well as the 1840s.


Mifepristone May: Upcoming Argument About "Conservatism"

In a recent article in Slate, I note that the Texas medication-abortion case highlights the distinction between "political" and "judicial" conservatism. The district court's ruling reached a desirable result from a "politically" conservative perspective (reduced abortion access). But it rests on a standing argument that is not "judicially" conservative (the plaintiffs rely on a chain of possibilities to establish their claimed injury). The Fifth Circuit will confront that distinction in the May 17 arguments in this case. This episode examines this choice, adding new developments from the last few weeks to the analysis in my Slate article.


Are "Business Courts" Acceptable Under the Texas State Constitution?

This episode examines arguments for why the proposed new system of business courts may not pass muster under Texas' state constitution. Specifically, it examines the constitutionality of appointing trial-level judges, and of creating a new "Fifteenth Court of Appeals" with statewide jurisdiction over one specific type of questions. It reviews whether this structure is consistent with an "originalist" understanding of Texas' Reconstruction-era constitution and its vision of highly decentralized state government. The episode concludes by asking whether it really advances the stated goal of "certainty" in Texas business law to create a new court system whose constitutional legitimacy is sure to be challenged.


Interview with ChatGPT

In this episode I interview ChatGPT, the powerful and easy to use AI chatbot that has changed the global discussion about the roles of human and artificial intelligence. We talk about its potential impact on the legal system. I'll be interested in your reactions. My takeaways were that ChatGPT: - Was unfailingly polite and well-organized; - Seemed to have a high-level "understanding" of a lot of topics - Was at times pedantic and evasive; - Wasn't great with detail, at one point making a mistake about the case and when Roe v. Wade was overruled. It acknowledged its error and apologized for it, though, when pointed out. Technical note: I did not the substance of any response by ChatGPT. I did delete occasional redundant paragraphs and made one small revision to a numbered list to help the speech software. The voice of ChatGPT is provided by the text-to-speech function in Microsoft Word, which may not be the most sophisticated voice AI program out there but was enough to get the job done.


"WWHD"? How should courts use the question: "What Would Hamilton Do?"

This episode considers modern-day financial regulation - specifically, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau - and what Alexander Hamilton might have thought about it. Then I consider, using a recent Fifth Circuit opinion as a test case, whether those thoughts offer any guidance about the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I doing so, I focus on the trial-court rules that guard against speculative testimony from a witness, as well as expert testimony that is not well-grounded in a recognized methodology. Based on that review, I suggest that analysis of Hamilton's intent - that would likely not be admissible in a trial court - may not be probative in a Constitutional analysis about a feature of modern government that did not exist in Hamilton's lifetime.


Coale Kids on Book Bans, Dress Codes, and Motto Posters

In this episode, I discuss three important issues of the day about school law with the people who really know the subject - three students. My guests are our kids Cecilia Coale (17, and a senior at the local high school), Camden Coale (14, a freshman), and Casey Coale (12, in seventh grade). (Their older brother Caleb is in college and could not join us.) We talk about (1) book banning, and in particular a recent Tennessee school-board vote to restrict access to "Maus," (2) dress codes, including a Forney ISD initiative to restrict the wearing of dresses, and (3) the new Texas law requiring the display of the national motto if a "durable poster" of it is given to a public school by a private donor. I hope you enjoy the episode as much as we had fun doing it!


Abortion Access as a Human Right: Interview With Julie F. Kay

In this episode, I interview noted human rights lawyer and author (and college classmate) Julie F. Kay, co-author of the 2021 book Controlling Women: What We Must Do Now to Save Reproductive Freedom, and the architect of the landmark European human rights case, A,_B_and C v. Ireland. We discuss her experiences in successfully advocating for abortion access in Ireland, and her thoughts on how we can move forward productively on women's health issues after the Supreme Court's recent Dobbs opinion.


The National Motto, the Texas Legislature, and the Southlake Dragons

This episode considers the new Texas law about the national motto "In God We Trust." The law requires public schools to display "a durable poster or framed copy" of the motto, if it is donated to the school and the poster also contains the US and Texas flag -- with no other "words, images, or other information." A Dallas-area school district drew national attention last week when it rejected the donation of a poster with the motto written in Arabic, as well as posters with rainbow-colored backgrounds. The district argued that it had earlier accepted "a durable poster" from someone else; the would-be donor argued that each of his posters qualified as "a durable poster" within the meaning of the law. I consider the purposes of the law, the fact that both sides of the Southlake debate have a point based on how the law is written, and suggest a third approach going forward--that districts display any qualifying poster for a reasonable amount of time, thereby giving all donors an opportunity to speak, but not flooding their walls with an excessive number of posters.


God, Sex, Life, and Dobbs: Who are the "People's Elected Representatives"?

Quoting several courts and the synoptic gospels ("Render unto Caesar ... "), this episode further considers who the "people's elected representatives" are, as identified in Dobbs: Which state's representatives?Which representatives? Is it government at all? City of Hialeah


Abortion Travel Restrictions After Dobbs: Constitutional?

Season Three of the Coale Mind podcast begins in the wake of the recent Dobbs opinion, taking a look at state laws seeking to regulate travel, and communication, between states involving abortion. Substantively, the episode focuses on the constitutional "privilege or immunity of citizenship" involving interstate travel, while also considering the "dormant commerce clause," the First Amendment, and the general due-process protection against vagueness. Procedurally, the episode considers the different audiences for litigation about these laws, comparing the very conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit with the more liberal intermediate courts of appeal throughout the Texas state appellate system. It concludes that Justice Alito's observation about returning abortion regulation to "the people's elected representatives" may be far more nuanced and unpredictable than it seemed when he wrote that sentence.


The Administrative State Strikes Back?

The antipathy of an increasingly conservative federal judiciary for the perceived excesses of the "administrative state" is well-known; a good recent example is the Fifth Circuit's panel-majority opinion in Jarkesy v. SEC that found constitutional problems with that agency's use of administrative law judges. In that case, the SEC unsuccessfully argued that its use of those judges was important to Congress's "statutory scheme" created by the federal securities laws. This episode considers the possibility that Congress, reacting to assertive judicial review of administrative-agency action, may start incorporating limits on judicial review as part of this and other such comprehensive "statutory schemes." It briefly examines the basis for such Congressional power and what form such reactions might take.


Originalism and its Discontents

This episode compares: Jarkesy v. SECSupreme Court majority opinion in Dobbs The episode concludes that historical analogies, made in the name of "originalism," may not be a faithful application of that technique for constitutional reasoning when the historical context differs substantially from our own.


Cities and Counties as Post-Roe Bulwarks: Who Are the "People's Elected Representatives"?

Recent headlines have been dominated by the leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. A key sentence in that draft opinion says: “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” In Texas, recent court battles about three topics --county election procedures, mask mandates, and SB8-- showed that “the people’s elected representatives” includes far more than the Legislature. There are not just two levels to our government (state and federal) but also a third—local authorities. This episode considers how the role and powers of those, additional, elected representatives may affect the availability of abortion in a post-Roe world.


Podcasting About Podcasting! I interview Todd Smith and Jody Sanders about their "Texas Appellate Law" podcast podcast

After months of "home confinement" as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, at an appellate CLE in Austin last fall I ran into my old friends Todd Smith and Jody Sanders, who publish the popular Texas Appellate Law podcast. We resolved to swap interviews in 2022, and this is "Coale Mind"'s side of the bargain! I interview Todd and Jody about their practices, podcasting and social media generally, and where they see both areas going in the future. I hope you enjoy these episodes as much as we enjoyed doing them.