Earlier this year, a Texas jury delivered a $706 million verdict in what quickly became a high-profile dispute over the value of purported real estate industry trade secrets. The record-setting verdict, rendered against Amrock (formerly known as Title Source) and in favor of HouseCanary, set off unanswered questions about the sealing of important documents that could provide public insight into the historic case.
We at the Houston Forward Times fought for public access – both in our pages and through court filings – to grant the interested this insight. Recent years have demonstrated just how impactful housing issues and the real estate industry can be to communities of color, and the public deserves insight into developments that could be industry-shaping.
We certainly recognize the court’s broad authority to keep documents sealed. However, we share the court’s – and the public’s – interest in ensuring that interpretation and its application is narrow. The recent release of previously sealed documents grants transparency, and we applaud the court in its decision to lift the veil as much as it could to provide open access to these trial documents.
With this newly released information, neutral observers can begin to analyze and decide whether the information was truly worth hundreds of millions of dollars or if, perhaps, the jury got it wrong.
We commend the court’s disclosure of documents so consequential to this case. Now, with the bright light of openness, legal scholars and professionals in the real estate market can begin to have more context regarding the jury’s thinking.