IN RE MIGUEL ZARAGOZA FUENTES, Relator and IN RE ELSA ESTHER CARRILLO ANCHONDO AND EAGLE RIDGE PROPERTIES, LLC, Relators
Proceedings on Petitions for Writ of Mandamus
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Higley and
original proceeding, the relators seek relief from the trial
court's denial of their requests to enforce a supersedeas
bond, which was filed to stay execution of a divorce decree
while that decree is on appeal.
trial court's divorce decree between Miguel Fuentes and
Evangelina Lopez Guzman Zaragoza awarded Evangelina three
residential properties in El Paso, Texas, in addition to
other property and money. Miguel and several third parties
have appealed the decree, and their appeal is pending in our
court. See Miguel Zaragoza Fuentes, et. al. v. Evangelina
Lopez Guzman Zaragoza, Case No. 01-16-00251-CV (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.]). Miguel posted a bond to supersede
the judgment. Before the divorce decree was final and before
Miguel posted the bond, Evangelina filed a copy of the decree
in the El Paso County real property records and took
possession of the three properties awarded to her. Her
possession of these properties became the source of the
present ancillary dispute.
moved the trial court to enforce the supersedeas bond,
claiming that Evangelina's continued possession of the
properties violates the bond. When the trial court denied
that relief, Miguel filed a motion seeking enforcement of the
bond and a petition for a writ of mandamus with this court.
Third party appellants Elsa Esther Carrillo Anchondo and her
wholly owned company, Eagle Ridge Properties, LLC, filed
similar requests for relief.
and the Carillo relators request that this court enforce the
supersedeas bond and order that Evangelina (1) withdraw her
El Paso County filings and (2) surrender physical possession
of the properties pending appeal. We deny the motions filed
in the appeal as moot and consider the requests as petitions
for writ of mandamus. We conditionally grant the petitions.
petitioned for divorce against Miguel in Harris County, Texas
in May 2014. On December 21, 2015, the trial court signed its
final decree of divorce.  Although titled in Eagle Ridge's
name, the trial court's findings of fact and conclusions
of law in the divorce proceeding attribute ownership of three
residential properties in El Paso County to Miguel. In the
decree, the trial court determined that the El Paso
properties were part of Miguel and Evangelina's marital
estate, and it awarded the properties to Evangelina. The
decree states that it may "serve as a muniment of title
to transfer ownership of all property awarded to any party in
this Final Decree of Divorce."
of the El Paso properties before the decree
the trial court signed the final decree, the Carillo relators
and other third parties petitioned to intervene in the case,
claiming that Evangelina was improperly seeking to have
property they owned considered as marital assets to
distribute as marital property in the divorce. See
Fuentes v. Zaragoza, 2017 WL 976079, at *1. In
particular, they claimed that the El Paso properties are
owned by Eagle Ridge, a company that, in turn, is owned
solely by Carillo, and not by Miguel. They assert that,
before the divorce decree was signed, Eagle Ridge was the
owner of record in the El Paso real property records and the
properties were occupied by Carillo and her family.
pursuant to the decree
the trial court signed the decree, Evangelina filed it with
the El Paso county clerk two days later, on December 23,
2015, claiming it as a muniment of title for the El Paso
properties. Five days later, on December 28, 2015, Evangelina
took physical possession of the properties from Carillo.
Evangelina did not obtain a writ of execution or a writ of
forcible entry and detainer before seizing the properties.
actions were immediately challenged. On December 30, 2015,
the Carillo relators filed a pleading in the trial court
seeking a temporary restraining order and a temporary
injunction for wrongful execution. The Carillo relators
claimed that Evangelina had violated Texas Rule of Civil
Procedure 627 by filing the decree in the property records
and taking possession of those properties less than 30 days
after issuance of the decree. See Tex. R. Civ. P.
627 (providing that execution on judgment may not issue until
"after the expiration of thirty days from the time a
final judgment is signed").
next day, the trial court issued a temporary restraining
order, reciting that "execution has begun to occur
within 30 days of the signing of the Final Judgment without
application under TRCP 628." The following week, the
court held a hearing on the Carillo relators' wrongful
execution claim. It denied their request for a temporary
injunction, explaining that it believed it lacked authority
to grant the relief requested:
I thought I had made a finding or a statement on the record
that whether you call it an execution or a [muniment] of
title, I do not believe that was proper, but I do not believe
sitting here in Harris County that I have any authority to
order people in El Paso County to do anything . . . .
Carillo relators did not appeal the trial court's
interlocutory order. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem.
Code § 51.014(a)(4) (authorizing appeal of interlocutory
order that "grants or refuses a temporary
Carillos relators, however, obtained a temporary restraining
order from the El Paso District Court the next day. That
temporary restraining order took the El Paso properties from
Evangelina's possession. The parties ultimately agreed to
place the properties in the possession of a court-appointed
receiver while the case proceeded in the El Paso court.
the trial court set the supersedeas bond at $278.3 million,
and Miguel appealed that order. Our court reversed the order
and ordered that the bond be set at $25 million. See
Fuentes v. Zaragoza, No. 01-16-00251-CV, 2016 WL
3023811, at *1 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] May 26, 2016,
order). Miguel posted a $25 million supersedeas bond with the
Harris County District ...