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Catt v. Delozier

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

June 1, 2017

RONALD SCOTT CATT, Appellant
v.
CHRISTOPHER DELOZIER AND CLIFFORD J. VACEK, Appellees

         On Appeal from the 268th District Court Fort Bend County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 16-DCV-229074

          Panel consists of Justices Boyce, Busby, and Wise.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Ken Wise, Justice

         Ronald Scott Catt pleaded guilty to an aggravated robbery and was sentenced in December 2013. In January 2016, he sued the appellees-the judge and prosecutor from the robbery case. Liberally construing his petition, Catt alleges that after his property was seized pursuant to a search warrant, the appellees forfeited his property under the civil forfeiture chapter without providing the required notice and an opportunity to be heard. Thus, Catt alleges that the appellees violated his right to due process under the United States Constitution. Catt seeks an injunction for the release of all seized property.

         Catt filed a motion for recusal, and the regional presiding judge denied the motion without a hearing. The appellees filed a motion to dismiss under Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, while Catt filed a motion for summary judgment based on deemed admissions. The trial court granted the Chapter 14 motion without a hearing and signed a final judgment dismissing the suit with prejudice. On appeal, Catt challenges the presiding judge's denial of the recusal motion, the trial court's granting of the Chapter 14 motion, and the court's failure to rule on the motion for summary judgment.[1]

         We affirm.

         I. Motion to Recuse

         Catt contends that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to hold a hearing before ruling on a motion to recuse. He contends that he was entitled to a hearing to develop a record in support of his motion. Appellees contend that the presiding judge correctly denied the motion without a hearing because Catt did not identify specific facts supporting the request to recuse, and because the motion was not verified. Catt responds that he filed several documents to supplement the original motion, and these documents were "dispositive of Appellee's [sic] claim of insufficient facts and verification."

         A. Standard of Review and Legal Principles

         We review an order denying a motion to recuse only for an abuse of discretion. Tex.R.Civ.P. 18a(j)(1)(A). Rule 18a provides that a motion to recuse:

(1) must be verified;
(2) must assert one or more of the grounds listed in Rule 18b;
(3) must not be based solely on the judge's rulings in the case; and
(4) must state with detail and particularity facts that:
(A) are within the affiant's personal knowledge, except that facts may be stated on information and belief if the basis for that belief is specifically stated;
(B) would be admissible in evidence; and
(C) if proven, would be sufficient to justify recusal or disqualification.

Tex. R. Civ. P. 18a(a). A presiding judge may deny the motion to recuse without an oral hearing if the motion does not comply with Rule 18a. See ...


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