Law Professor's Amicus Letter Holds Sway in Texas Supreme Court's Decision

March 7, 2008
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Law Professor Ron Beal

by Julie Carlson, director of communications, Baylor Law School, (254) 710-6681

Baylor Law Professor Ron Beal routinely reads decisions handed down by the Texas Supreme Court. So when a recent decision that was inconsistent with administrative law principles caught his eye, he knew he had to act.

Beal, an expert in administrative law, wrote an amicus letter in the case of El Paso Hospital District, et al. v. Texas Health and Human Services Commission, et al., a case that dealt with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's (HHSC) collection of data used to calculate hospitals' Medicaid reimbursement rates.

According to Texas Lawyer magazine, which had an article on the opinion in its March 3 issue, the court's justices agreed with the professor's assessment of the case - that the agency cannot amend a rule through interpretation without going through the rulemaking requirements.

"What they (HHSC) was doing was unlawful," Beal said. "I pointed this out in my letter - that the agency had improperly amended a rule. The court agreed that what the agency had been doing was invalid and they nullified the rule."

Beal said in his letter that he "has no interest, financial or otherwise, in this litigation. I write solely to preserve the integrity of the administrative process."

"This demonstrates the remarkable, high-profile impact that Professor Beal has had on the development of the law in his discipline," said Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben. "This is what makes us as a school so distinctive and so successful - we are engaged in the world about us in the truest sense in making a difference in our profession and in the lives of those served through our work in the profession."

Beal has developed an expertise in Texas administrative law. He has authored numerous law review articles that have been cited as authoritative by the Texas judiciary, taught training courses for administrative law judges and lectured in advanced courses for practicing lawyers. In 1991, he was honored by the State Bar of Texas Administrative and Public Law Council for writing the Outstanding Administrative Law Review Article and in 1994, Baylor University conferred upon him the award of Outstanding Research Professor. In 1997, he completed a treatise, Texas Administrative Practice and Procedure, that is considered the "bible" of Texas administrative law.

Beal earned a J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law in 1979 after receiving a B.A. in 1975 from St. Olaf College. After graduation, he was a civil trial lawyer for three years in St. Paul, Minn., at Murnane, Conlin, White, Brandt and Hoffman. Professor Beal then earned a LL.M. at Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia, Penn. In 1983, he joined the faculty at Baylor Law School.