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David Crump

David Crump has no picture David Crump, John B. Neibel Professor of Law & Director of CLE, holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Texas. Professor Crump earned his B.A. from Harvard College, where he concentrated in Chemistry. Before going to law school, he was an aerospace engineer at the NASA-MSC. After receiving his J.D. from the University of Texas, he was a law clerk to a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a law professor at the University of California (Davis), and an attorney in private practice in Dallas. He served as an Assistant District Attorney of Harris County, Texas, where he tried cases ranging from minor misdemeanors to capital murders. Since that time, he has been a civil trial lawyer and has been affiliated with the law firms of Johnson & Gibbs and Haynes and Boone, among others, while teaching at the University of Houston Law Center.He has published 10 law school teaching books that are currently in use, on subjects ranging from civil litigation to real property transactions. He also has two published novels and a book of children's poetry. He has been a director of the State Bar of Texas and chaired the subcommittee of the State Bar that generated the Minimum Continuing Legal Education plan for Texas.
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BP response

In criminal law, some jurisdictions provide the defense of mistake of law. It is a carefully hedged defense, for obvious reasons (it's easy for someone to say, "I got this cryptic information that suggested to me that my actions were perfectly legal"). In Texas, for instance, the defense exists, but to use it, you must have relied on advice given by a government official charged with interpreting the law (a court, for instance, or an attorney general's opinion), and the advice has to be in writing.

I recall only one case that involved this mistake of law concept (and none with mistake of fact): I prosecuted a pollution case against Brown & Root, and its defense was a phone call to the EPA, which allegedly said, "Go ahead and burn all that waste rubber and you won't violate any environmental laws." The judge fined B & R $ 50: a major victory. The criminal defense doesn't merit the heavy treatment that is given to it in casebooks; reading the statute and applying it to a couple of hypothetical problems is actually better for both discussion and retention.

 

In civil cases, again it depends on the jurisdiction, but the defense is contributory negligence by a third person. Jurisdictions vary about whether a person who cannot be negligent (a child, or the government) can be a contributor, but in Texas, yes. Then, the question is how the causation is apportioned. We have six or seven different apportionment schemes, including one that involves equal proportions to each tortfeasor without regard to percentage causality, but in most cases today, it's probably proportional responsibility (of which there are multiple varieties). So if a jury were to find BP or a contractor 45% causally negligent and the government 45% causally negligent and someone else 10% negligent, liability would be apportioned according to these percentages (probably).

 

But it's much more complicated, and there are various caps (e.g., a person with less than a certain percentage isn't jointly and severally liable, just liable for that person's proportion).

Response to Prof. Duncan's editorial

Meredith Duncan's piece really is a fine editorial. On the one hand, I can understand the reluctance of the media to make a point of the race of a skier. That instinct comes from the idea that race should be irrelevant to achievement. It’s actually a good instinct—in some contexts. But not all.

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'Innovation' redux

Here is the “innovative curriculum” at the new UC Irvine Law School. It’s not really very innovative, even though it has different names for the courses, but it does scrap the traditional curriculum and try something different. One thing that looks interesting about this curriculum is that it seems to repeat the what-do-you-think-and-how-do-you-feel-about-this-court-opinion method a little less.

 

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Abolish the Act of State doctrine?

Imagine what would happen if an American President were to persuade Congress to abolish the Act of State doctrine. Presumably, the President would follow this step by “tough negotiations” conducted with the Saudis, which would be convened either “with or without preconditions.” .

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Hole vs. Donut: A response to Darren Bush

Darren, the Stracher piece is a mild call for a corrective to a skewed educational system. Yes, there are occasions for intellectual debate in the law. But they are rare, compared to other things. Continue Reading...

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