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Gonzales v. Dallas County Appraisal District

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

May 3, 2017

SULMA GONZALES, Appellant
v.
THE DALLAS COUNTY APPRAISAL DISTRICT, THE APPRAISAL REVIEW BOARDOF DALLAS COUNTY APPRAISAL DISTRICT ANDLYONS EQUITIES, INC., Appellees

         On Appeal from the 162nd Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-13-09665-I.

          Before Justices Bridges, Lang-Miers, and Evans

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DAVID EVANS JUSTICE

         Pro se appellant Sulma Gonzales raises three issues in this appeal of a post-judgment turnover order.[1] Specifically, she challenges the trial court's dismissal of her underlying lawsuit alleging an unequal tax assessment, complains about the trial court's imposition of attorney's fees against her in the underlying suit, and contends the trial court improperly signed findings of fact and conclusions of law prepared by the opposing counsel in both the underlying suit and with respect to the turnover order. We affirm the trial court's turnover order.

         BACKGROUND

         This matter arises out of a lawsuit Gonzales filed against The Dallas County Appraisal District, the Appraisal Review Board, and Lyons Equities, Inc. alleging her property was unequally taxed as compared to the taxation of property owned by Lyons. After hearings on the District's and Board's pleas to the jurisdiction and a motion to dismiss filed by Lyons under rule of civil procedure 91a, the trial court dismissed Gonzales's lawsuit. The trial court concluded it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear her claims concerning the tax code because she did not own the property in question. The trial court also awarded Lyons attorney's fees under rule 91a(7) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Gonzales appealed the trial court's dismissal and Lyons's award of attorney's fees to this Court. We affirmed the trial court's judgment. Gonzales v. The Dallas Cty. Appraisal Dist., No. 05-13-01658-CV, 2015 WL 3866530 (Tex. App.-Dallas June 23, 2015, no pet.) (mem. op.). Among other things, we noted the record revealed that Gonzales lacked standing to bring the lawsuit because she had sold the land in question to Lenola Corporation in 2009. Id. at *3. We concluded that even in light of Gonzales's statement that she owned 100% of Lenola's verified stock, she did not own land after she sold it to Lenola because the corporation was a separate legal entity from Gonzales. Id. We further concluded that the trial court did not err by granting Lyons's motion to dismiss under rule 91a and awarding attorney's fees under that rule. Id. at *5-*6. Our mandate in the appeal issued on September 2, 2015.

         On September 23, 2015, Lyons filed a motion for turnover order asserting the judgment for attorney's fees of $3, 821.15 was now final and due. Lyons requested the trial court to order Gonzales to turn over all of her stock certificates for Lenola alleging Gonzales admitted that she was the sole owner of Lenola stock and the property cannot be readily attached or levied on by ordinary legal process. The trial court signed an order granting turnover relief on November 30, 2015. Gonzales then filed this appeal.

         ANALYSIS

         We review the trial court's ruling on a request for a turnover order under an abuse of discretion standard. See HSM Dev. Inc. v. Barclay Props., Ltd., 392 S.W.3d 749, 751 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2012, no pet.). A trial court abuses its discretion if it acts in an unreasonable or arbitrary manner or without reference to any guiding rules or principles. Id.

         In her first and second issues, Gonzales attacks the trial court's underlying judgment dismissing her claims and awarding Lyons attorney's fees. We have already addressed the merits of the arguments under these issues in Gonzales's direct appeal of the underlying judgment. See Gonzales, 2015 WL 3866530 *3-*6. Our opinion and judgment from the prior appeal affirming the trial court's underlying judgment are now final and we lack jurisdiction to revisit these issues in this appeal. See Tex. R. App. P. 19.1 (our plenary power expires sixty days after date of our judgment absent timely motion for rehearing or en banc reconsideration). Moreover, Gonzales's attempt to assail the merits of the trial court's underlying final judgment in this appeal from a turnover order constitutes an improper collateral attack. See Browning v. Prostok, 165 S.W.3d 336, 346 (Tex. 2005) (defining collateral attack). Only void judgments are subject to collateral attack. Id. A judgment is void only if the trial court rendering a judgment lacks jurisdiction over the parties or property, lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, has no jurisdiction to enter the specific judgment, or has no capacity to act. Id. Although Gonzales asserts the trial court erred in rendering the underlying judgment, she has not demonstrated the judgment is void. Accordingly, we dismiss appellant's first and second issues for lack of appellate jurisdiction.

         In her third issue, Gonzales complains the trial court improperly signed proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law and a proposed judgment submitted by opposing counsel without providing Gonzales the opportunity "to object to the text."[2] In order to present an issue for our review, an appellant's brief must contain a clear and concise argument for the contentions made with appropriate citations to authorities and the record. Tex.R.App.P. 38.1(i). We have no right or obligation to search through the record and conduct legal research to find facts and law supporting an appellant's contentions because such actions would transform this Court from a neutral tribunal to a party advocate. See Bolling v. Farmers Branch Indep. Sch. Dist., 315 S.W.3d 893, 895 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2010, no pet.).

         Gonzales asserts the trial court erred in signing proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law and the turnover order without giving her an opportunity to object to the text, but provides no discussion or any legal authority to support her contention of error. Moreover, she has failed to explain how these asserted errors probably caused the rendition of an improper judgment. See Tex. R. App. P. 44.1. Accordingly, Gonzales's third issue is inadequately briefed and presents nothing for our review. See Bolling, 315 S.W.3d at 895-96.

         We affirm the trial court's November 30, ...


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