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In re Escamilla

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

April 18, 2017

IN RE Leticia Murillo ESCAMILLA[1]

         From the 218th Judicial District Court, La Salle County, Texas Trial Court No. 13-04-00108-CVL Honorable Russell Wilson, Judge Presiding

          CONTEMPT JUDGMENT

         This is a contempt proceeding ancillary to appeal number 04-16-00298-CV, styled El Caballero Ranch, Inc. and Laredo Marine, L.L.C. v. Grace River Ranch, L.L.C., currently pending in this court. On January 4, 2017, this court issued an order, directing court reporter, Leticia Murillo Escamilla, to appear and show cause why she should not be held in criminal and civil contempt for violating this court's December 13, 2016 order by failing to file the reporter's record in this appeal. The January 4, 2017 order was personally served on Ms. Escamilla by Deputy R. Gonzalez, #4305 on January 9, 2017. In that order, we advised Ms. Escamilla of her right to be represented by counsel. Responding to our order, Ms. Escamilla personally appeared before this court, and the court heard testimony from Ms. Escamilla. After deliberating, we found that Ms. Escamilla should be held in contempt for failing to comply with this court's order dated December 13, 2016 by failing to file the reporter's record.

         In a Contempt Judgment, dated January 24, 2017 and incorporated by reference herein, we ordered Ms. Escamilla to complete the reporter's record by working on the reporter's record at the office of the Bexar County Sheriff's Court Security, 300 Dolorosa, San Antonio, Texas. We ordered Ms. Escamilla to report to that office on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, not later than 9:00 a.m., with all the materials, equipment, and matter necessary to complete the record. We further ordered Ms. Escamilla to work exclusively on the record for this appeal for a minimum of seven hours per day from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. every Monday through Friday Ms. Escamilla was further ordered not to work on any other matters until she filed the reporter's record in this appeal and that filing was certified by the Clerk of this court. We also ordered Ms. Escamilla to pay a fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00) to the Clerk of the Fourth Court of Appeals no later than 5:00 p.m. on January 27, 2017 as well as all the costs of this proceeding by the same time and date. Ms. Escamilla timely paid the fine and costs that day and reported to the sheriff's office the following morning to work on the record.

         On February 28, 2017, Ms. Escamilla contacted the Clerk of this court, stating she was ill and would be leaving early for the day to go to the doctor. The Clerk of this court advised Ms. Escamilla that she was not released from our January 24, 2017 order until the reporter's record was complete. Ms. Escamilla did not appear at the sheriff's office to work on the reporter's record the following two days, March 1 and March 2 of 2017. On March 2, 2017, Ms. Escamilla submitted a doctor's certificate, indicating she was in the doctor's care from February 28, 2017 until March 3, 2017.

         On March 6, 2017, Ms. Escamilla contacted the Clerk of this court, stating she would either be late or unable to report to the sheriff's office to work on the reporter's record because she needed to take her husband to the doctor. Again, Ms. Escamilla was advised that she was not released from our January 24, 2017 order until the reporter's record was complete. This court was later informed Ms. Escamilla appeared on March 6, 2017 in Pearsall County with her reporter's equipment to record a number of matters - none of which involved this appeal. The reporter's record in this appeal remained incomplete at that time.

         On March, 9, 2017, Ms. Escamilla contacted the Clerk of this court, stating she would not be reporting to the sheriff's office because she needed to work from home to complete the reporter's record because she needed access to her scanner and printer. Ms. Escamilla was again advised that she was not released from our January 24, 2017 order until the reporter's record was complete. The reporter's record was not complete at that time.

         As a result, by order dated March 13, 2017, we ordered Ms. Escamilla to appear in the courtroom at the Fourth Court of Appeals, 300 Dolorosa, Suite 3200, San Antonio, Texas, on March 29, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. before a panel consisting of Justice Barnard, Justice Martinez, and Justice Alvarez to show cause:

1. why she should not be held in criminal contempt and civil contempt of this court for violating this court's January 24, 2017 contempt judgment by failing to report to the office of the Bexar County Sheriff's Court Security from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. every Monday through Friday until the reporter's record was completed and by failing to work exclusively on the record for this appeal for a minimum of seven hours per day from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. every Monday through Friday until the reporter's record was completed; and
2. why she should not be sanctioned.

         Our order advised Ms. Escamilla that she had the right to be represented by counsel at the show cause hearing and the proceedings would be recorded by a certified court reporter. The court's order was personally served on Ms. Escamilla by the Wilson County Sheriff, Joe D. Tackitt Jr., on March 13, 2017 at 1:39 p.m.

         On March 28, 2017, Mr. Robert J. Barrera filed a notice of appearance, stating he represented Ms. Escamilla. He also filed a motion to continue, requesting a continuance of at least ten (10) business days in order to properly prepare for the hearing. After review, we granted his request and reset the matter for April 18, 2017 at 2:30 p.m. in the courtroom at the Fourth Court of Appeals, 300 Dolorosa, Suite 3200, San Antonio, Texas before a panel consisting of Justice Barnard, Justice Martinez, and Justice Alvarez.

         Ms. Escamilla personally appeared before the court at 2:30 p.m. on April 18, 2017 to show cause why she should not be held in contempt of court. Ms. Escamilla was advised of her right to counsel by the court, and Ms. Escamilla appeared with counsel, Mr. Barrera. The court took judicial notice of its own file and determined that Ms. Escamilla violated this court's January 24, 2017 contempt judgment by failing to report to the office of the Bexar County Sheriff's Court Security from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. every Monday through Friday until the reporter's record was completed and by failing to work exclusively on the record for this appeal for a minimum of seven hours per day from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. every Monday through Friday until the reporter's record was completed. The court gave Ms. Escamilla an opportunity to show cause why she should not be held in contempt for violating our contempt judgment. Ms. Escamilla admitted that she violated the January 24, 2017 contempt judgment by her conduct described above - specifically, the conduct described on February 28, 2017, March 6, 2017, and March 9, 2017. With regard to Ms. Escamilla's conduct on February 28, 2017, Mr. Barrera points out that Ms. Escamilla submitted a doctor's certificate, indicating she was ill and in doctor's care for that period of time and therefore, did not act in conscious disregard of the court's contempt judgment. With regard to her conduct on March 6, 2017, Ms. Escamilla testified that when she spoke to the Clerk of this Court, she was in the process of making arrangements to take her husband to the doctor. She admitted that she failed to inform the Clerk that she also needed to appear in Pearsall County to take the record that day. Ms. Escamilla testified she was in fear of losing her job. Ms. Escamilla concluded by testifying she takes full responsibility of her actions and apologized to the court for her actions.

         After deliberating, this court finds from the evidence that Ms. Escamilla should be held in contempt of this court for violating this court's contempt judgment dated January 24, 2017. It is therefore ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED by the Court of Appeals, Fourth Court of Appeals District of Texas, that:

Leticia Murillo Escamilla is in contempt of this court for violating with this court's contempt judgment dated January 24, 2017, by failing to report to the office of the Bexar County Sheriff's Court Security from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. every Monday through Friday until the reporter's record was completed and by failing to work exclusively on the record for this appeal for a minimum of seven hours per day from 9:00 am to ...

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