Federal Law

The Supreme Court of Texas Rules on Ignorance Laws

It is often said that ignorance of the law is no defense. Perhaps not. But if ignorance of the law can’t be used defensively by Mosley, it also can’t be used offensively by the government. This is a not primarily a case about Mosley’s ignorance of the law. It is a case about the government’s ignorance of the law.


The government tried to end Patricia Mosley’s career. She may or may not have deserved it. This appeal has nothing to do with that question.

Whether or not Mosley deserves to have the government end her career, the Texas Constitution guarantees her it won’t happen “except by the due course of the law of the land.” TEX. CONST. art. I, § 19.

In this instance, for better or worse, “the law of the land” is the elaborate minefield of modern administrative procedure, which non-lawyer citizens like Mosley must successfully navigate in order to vindicate their right to due process. See TEX. GOV’T CODE §§ 2001.001–.902.

The complexity and expense of this perilous procedural journey no doubt convince many not to bother at all, including many who firmly believe their government has wronged them. But Mosley was not dissuaded. She pressed forward….

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