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Gutierrez v. Garcia

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

June 8, 2017

NORA S. GUTIERREZ, BELINDA G. POMPA, AND JORGE RUBEN POMPA, Appellants,
v.
ELOISA GARCIA, Appellee.

         On appeal from the County Court at Law No. 5 of Nueces County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Contreras and Benavides

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GINA M. BENAVIDES, Justice

         This is an appeal from a judgment of eviction rendered in favor of appellee Eloisa Garcia (Eloisa) following a de novo appeal from the justice court to the trial court. By three issues, which we address out of order, appellants Nora Gutierrez, Belinda G. Pompa, and Jorge Ruben Pompa assert that: (1) the trial court lacked jurisdiction over this matter; (2) the trial court committed harmful error by failing to respond to their request for findings of facts and conclusions of law; and (3) the trial court erred by ordering them to vacate the premises. We affirm.

         I. Background

         In approximately June of 2016, Eloisa allowed her sisters Nora and Belinda, and Belinda's husband Jorge (collectively the appellants) to move into her house located on Acushnet Drive in Corpus Christi in order to give "them time to fix their house and save money so they could eventually move back to" their own home on Kasper Street.[1] Eloisa testified that "after a while" she saw that the appellants had no intention of moving back to their home. According to Eloisa, she paid "all the bills, " and therefore, the appellants had "no claim to the house." Eloisa wanted to evict them because she felt "like a prisoner in [her] own house." Nora testified that she has not paid "any rent per se" to Eloisa for her stay at the Acushnet house, but had contributed to "the upkeep of the house." When asked by the trial court what legal basis the appellants have to stay at the Acushnet home, Nora testified that she was not served a proper notice to vacate under the Texas Property Code.

         Eloisa filed a forcible detainer suit in the justice court, in which she asserted that she gave the appellants written notice to vacate on September 1, 2016 by personal delivery, as well as a verbal notice to vacate the premises by September 1, 2016. On September 21, 2016, the justice court held a hearing and ordered the appellants to vacate the Acushnet property by September 26, 2016. The appellants subsequently appealed to the trial court. After holding a de novo hearing, the trial court likewise granted Eloisa relief and ordered the appellants to vacate the premises. This appeal followed.[2]

         II. Jurisdiction of County Court

         By their third issue, the appellants assert that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear this case because they lacked the assistance of counsel.

         A. Jurisdiction in Eviction Cases

         An appeal taken from an eviction suit in the justice court is tried de novo in the county court. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 510.10. A trial de novo is a new trial in which the entire case is presented as if there had been no previous trial. Id. The trial, as well as any hearings and motions, is entitled to precedence in the county court. Id. An appeal is perfected from the justice court on an eviction case when a bond, cash deposit, or statement of inability to afford payment of court costs is filed in accordance with rule of civil procedure 510.9. See id. R. 510.9.

         Here, the appellants perfected their appeal on September 26, 2016 from the justice court. Accordingly, the trial court properly acquired jurisdiction over this matter on that date. See id. R. 510.9-.10.

         B. Assistance of Counsel

         The appellants argued to the trial court and now on appeal that they were not represented by counsel and wanted such representation before continuing, which was denied by the trial court. On appeal, the appellants argue that they needed an attorney, and as a ...


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