Venue, mandamus, en banc review, and reading tea leaves

“What does Judge X think about my issue?”  If Judge X has served on the Fifth Circuit for some time, his or her votes in two cases can provide good insight: (1) the denial of en banc rehearing in Huss v. Gayden, 585 F.2d 823 (5th Cir. 2009), a difficult Daubert case, and (2) the en banc opinion of In re Volkswagen,  545 F.3d 304 (5th Cir. 2008), which granted mandamus relief for the denial of a 1404 venue transfer motion from the Eastern District of Texas. A third case has now joined that list — the recent 7-8 vote to deny en banc rehearing for In re Radmax, 730 F.3d 285 (5th Cir. 2013).  The Radmax panel granted mandamus relief to compel an intra-district transfer under section 1404.  Judge Higginson, who dissented from the panel, also dissented from the en banc vote, pinpointing the issue as whether the ruling “propounds appellate mandamus power over district judges which the Supreme Court has said we do not have.”  The votes in Huss, Volkswagen, and Radmax signal much about a judge’s philosophy as to the power and role of a district judge.