Appeal from the Probate Court No. 2 Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 426447
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Boyce and
an appeal from a judgment following a bench trial in a will
contest. In 2013, Judy Taylor, the independent executrix of
the Estate of Deborah Taylor Crawford, filed an application
to probate the will of Deborah Taylor Crawford. Appellant,
Jimmy Crawford, filed a contest to the decedent's will,
arguing that a previous valid will existed.
22, 2017, at the end of the first day of testimony in the
bench trial, the parties, through counsel, put the following
agreement into the record:
[Appellee's counsel]: We have agreed that both parties
will relinquish any claim for good-faith finding and that
would enable them to recover attorney's fees. In
consideration, the will contestant has agreed not to appeal
this decision -
[Appellant's counsel]: Yes.
[Appellee's counsel]: - and has agreed to relinquish any
other claim he might have against any parties, the executor
or anyone else for any kind of a bad-faith finding.
THE COURT: Okay. Do you agree to that?
[Appellant's counsel]: Yes, Your Honor.
30, 2017, the trial court signed a final judgment finding the
will submitted by Judy Taylor is valid and enforceable, and
denying appellant's contest. The judgment contains a
paragraph noting that, "Pursuant to the agreement of the
parties read into the Court record on May 22, 2017,
Defendant/Will Contestant Jimmy Crawford is prohibited from
appealing this Judgment regarding the Court's finding of
an enforceable Will and is further prohibited from asserting
any claims or actions against Judy Taylor, Lauren Crawford,
Adam Crawford and/or Heath Crawford that arise or might arise
from the filing and probating of the Will by the Executrix,
Judy Taylor." Appellant filed a notice of appeal from
the May 30, 2017 judgment.
October 3, 2017, this court issued an order abating this
appeal for 60 days to allow the parties an opportunity to
mediate the dispute. On October 9, 2017, appellee filed a
motion to dismiss the appeal and an objection to mediation.
filed a response to appellee's motion in which appellant
argues (1) appellee does not have standing due to a
typographical error in the judgment; (2) appellant was denied
the right to a jury trial; and (3) the agreement is not valid
because appellant fired his lawyer the day after the
agreement was read into the court record. Appellant's
response does not demonstrate that appellee's motion to
dismiss lacks merit. With regard to the alleged typographical
error, it appears from the clerk's record that the trial
court cause number originally typed on the judgment was
426447-401. The "-401" portion of the cause number
was manually crossed out. The correct trial court cause
number is 426447, which is what the judgment reflects. As to
appellant's complaint that he was denied a jury trial,
the record contains an agreement under Texas Rule of Civil
Procedure 11 in which appellant waived his right to a jury
trial. The agreement reflects that appellant, "requests
that his jury trial be removed from the jury docket set for
May 22, 2017 and be set for a bench trial on the same
regard to the validity of the agreement in which appellant
waived his right to appeal, appellant filed a motion for new
trial in which he alleged that the agreement "was not
what was presented by" appellee's attorney.
Appellant argued the agreement is invalid because it was not
in writing and he fired his attorney the next day. At the
hearing on the motion for new ...