Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Simien v. Simien-Rideau

Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, Beaumont

August 3, 2017

AUNDRE JAMES SIMIEN SR., Appellant
v.
TANIKA MICHELLE SIMIEN-RIDEAU, Appellee

          Submitted on November 15, 2016

         On Appeal from the 317th District Court Jefferson County, Texas Trial Cause No. C-215, 371

          Before McKeithen, C.J., Kreger and Johnson, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHARLES KREGER, Justice.

         This divorce originated in the 317th District Court. Appellant, Aundre James Simien, Sr. appeals a final judgment entered in the case by the presiding judge of the 136th District Court.[1] In three issues, Aundre argues that the trial court that entered the divorce decree lacked jurisdiction to do so and complains about provisions in the decree that provide for the division of the community estate. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Jurisdiction

         This case was originally filed in the 317th District Court and was called to trial before an associate judge sitting in that court. Aundre objected to the associate judge hearing the case, and the case was then "assigned to Judge Milton Gunn Shuffield to preside."[2] The final hearing was continued to allow the parties to prepare a joint inventory. Following the continuance, Judge Shuffield called the case to trial and heard evidence over the course of several days, and thereafter, signed and entered a Final Decree of Divorce. The record contains no indication that Aundre objected to the assignment of Judge Shuffield to hear the case or enter orders at the time of assignment, before or during the trial on the merits, at the hearing on Tanika's request to enter a final order, or in his Motion for New Trial.

         In his first issue on appeal, Aundre argues that the 136th District Court did not have jurisdiction to enter any divorce decree or custody order because there was no motion or order to transfer the case into that court from the 317th District Court.

         The Texas Constitution expressly permits District Judges to "exchange districts, or hold courts for each other when they may deem it expedient[.]" Tex. Const. art. V, § 11. The Texas Government Code also provides district judges wide discretion to temporarily exchange benches with the judge of another district court in the county, hear and determine matters pending in other district courts within the county, and transfer civil or criminal cases to the docket of another district court within the same county. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 24.003 (West Supp. 2016).

         Aundre argues that "[t]he exclusive transfer provisions provided in . . . section 155.202 [of the Texas Family Code] negate the ability to transfer cases freely between District Courts and [sic] the same county." Aundre's reliance on section 155.202 under the facts of this case is misplaced, however, as that subchapter applies specifically to proceedings in which one trial court has acquired continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over a matter as a result of the rendition of a final order pertaining to a child, and a party seeks to initiate or transfer subsequent proceedings relating to that child in or to a different court. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 155.001(a), (c) (West Supp. 2016). The cases Aundre cites in support of his argument are also inapplicable, as both cases involve transfers of suits from courts that had acquired continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the respective matters. See Alexander v. Russell, 699 S.W.2d 209, 210 (Tex. 1985) (holding that jurisdiction could not be transferred from the court that originally established conservatorship of a child to another district court without a proper motion and transfer order); Kirby v. Chapman, 917 S.W.2d 902, 907-08 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1996, no writ) (finding that a district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to modify the custody order of another district court that had acquired continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the matter).

         In this case, there was no transfer of the proceedings from the 317th District Court to the 136th District Court; rather, there was an assignment for Judge Shuffield to preside, as explicitly permitted by section 24.003 of the Texas Government Code irrespective of Chapter 155 of the Texas Family Code. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 24.003(b)(2). Moreover, even if the proceedings were deemed "transferred, " no court had acquired continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the matter prior to entry of a final order. See Tex. Fam. Code § 155.001(a). Therefore, the assignment of Judge Shuffield to preside over the matter was not subject to the procedures for transfer of suits affecting the parent-child relationship set forth in Chapter 155. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 155.204 (West 2014).

         Aundre also cites section 74.053(a) of the Texas Government Code in support of his assertion that a written notice or order was required to properly convey jurisdiction. This reliance is likewise misplaced, because "[w]hen judges exchange districts or hold court for each other, [s]ection 74.053 of the Government Code does not apply." Gonzalez v. Ables, 945 S.W.2d 253, 254 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1997, orig. proceeding). Further, nothing in section 24.003 of the Government Code or article V, section 11 of the Texas Constitution requires a written order or explanation for an exchange of benches by district judges. See Mata v. State, 669 S.W.2d 119, 121 (Tex. Crim. App. 1984). Accordingly, we overrule Aundre's first issue.

         Property Division

         In his second issue, Aundre argues that the trial court abused its discretion by awarding Tanika a disproportionate division of the community estate. Specifically, Aundre contends that the trial court awarded Tanika sixty percent of the community property and that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.