LESLIE WM. ADAMS & ASSOCIATES, Appellant
AMOCO FEDERAL CREDIT UNION AND TERENCE MARTINEZ, Appellees
Appeal from the County Civil Court at Law No. 4 Harris
County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 1026220-801
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Keyes and
Michael Massengale Justice.
an appeal from an order for disbursement of garnished funds.
Judgment creditor and appellant Leslie Wm. Adams &
Associates obtained a postjudgment writ of garnishment
against appellee AMOCO Federal Credit Union, based on an
underlying judgment against judgment debtor and appellee
Terence Martinez. Martinez moved to dissolve the writ on the
basis that the funds in his accounts were exempt from
garnishment. After a bench trial in which some funds were
determined to be exempt from garnishment, the court issued a
final judgment dissolving the writ and ordering AMOCO to
disburse a portion of Martinez's funds to satisfy the
underlying judgment. Following the garnishment proceedings
and prior to execution on the judgment in garnishment,
Martinez filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the
a judgment in garnishment is not self-executing and the
underlying judgment against Martinez was discharged in
bankruptcy, we dismiss Adams & Associates's appellate
challenges to the extent they implicate the firm's
efforts to collect money from Martinez. In all other
respects, we affirm the trial court's judgment.
Terence Martinez is a U.S. Army veteran who receives
outpatient mental-health treatment for a long history of
depression, caused in part by chronic pain. He is unemployed
and receives various disability payments, as well as benefits
from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Martinez regularly
deposited these funds into his account with appellee AMOCO
Federal Credit Union.
Hurricane Ike, Martinez filed a lawsuit which was settled by
payments from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.
Martinez subsequently alleged various claims against a
construction company for inferior repairs. For these legal
claims, he was represented by appellant Leslie Wm. Adams
& Associates, a professional limited liability company.
Adams & Associates later sued Martinez to recover legal
fees, and it obtained a final judgment against him for $41,
235.20 in actual damages and $2, 858.50 in attorney's
& Associates then filed for a writ of garnishment against
AMOCO Federal Credit Union, alleging that it was indebted to
Martinez. The trial court issued a writ against
AMOCO. In its original answer to the writ,  AMOCO affirmed
that it was indebted to Martinez in the amount of $108,
601.56 because he had two accounts at the credit union.
filed several motions to dissolve the writ of garnishment,
alleging that all of the money in his AMOCO accounts was
exempt from garnishment. Eventually, AMOCO filed an amended
answer to the writ of garnishment in which it stated that it
had "maintained its hold" on the accounts "in
the amount of $46, 741.81, " but it allowed Martinez to
have access to the excess balance of $60, 699.00, which was
withdrawn by him.
trial court held a bench trial to determine the amount of
exempt and nonexempt funds remaining in the AMOCO accounts.
Adams & Associates presented a forensic accountant to
testify about the money in the accounts at the time the writ
of garnishment was served on AMOCO. She testified that all
but $2, 119 of the original $108, 601.56 was nonexempt funds
subject to garnishment.
also testified at the trial. He asserted that the money in
the credit union accounts came from several sources,
including VA benefits, disability benefits, and insurance
trial court determined that of the $46, 741.81 remaining on
deposit with AMOCO, $15, 328 constituted nonexempt funds. The
court issued a judgment ordering AMOCO to pay Adams &
Associates $12, 869.64 out Martinez's funds. The
remainder of the balance of nonexempt funds was awarded to
AMOCO for attorney's fees.
& Associates appealed.
& Associates raised four issues challenging the trial
court's order for disbursement of garnished funds and
AMOCO's release of garnished funds without a court order.
Procedure for garnishment appeal
being a party to the garnishment proceeding with a personal
interest in its outcome, Martinez was not provided notice of
all filings during the initial stages of this appeal
consistent with his status as a party. In its docketing
statement, Adams & Associates failed to identify
Martinez as an appellee.
garnishment proceeding necessarily involves three
parties: a creditor, a debtor, and a third person who
has some obligation to the debtor. "Garnishment is a
creditor's action against his debtor's debtor to
obtain payment of what is owed the
creditor." Accordingly, the deficient docketing
statement filed in this court was struck, and Adams &
Associates was ordered to file a new docketing statement
including Martinez as an appellee. The clerk of the court
provided Martinez with a complete copy of the appellate
record, and deadlines were extended to permit him to file a
brief, which he did not do.
II.Effect of bankruptcy ...