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White v. Ector County Appraisal District

Court of Appeals of Texas, Eleventh District

December 14, 2017


         On Appeal from the County Court at Law Ector County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. CC-10, 128-T

          Panel consists of: Wright, C.J., Willson, J., and Bailey, J.


          PER CURIAM.

         Ector County Appraisal District sued Victor Dewayne White for the recovery of delinquent ad valorem taxes. The trial court found that White was delinquent in the payment of property taxes in the amount of $1, 634.31 and authorized Ector County Appraisal District to foreclose on the property. On appeal, White requests that this court grant his "Writ of Quo Warranto, " vacate the judgment, and vacate what he describes as a "void" judgment. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Procedural History

         The Appraisal District alleged that White had failed to pay his property taxes on certain real property in Ector County and filed suit. The Ector County Sherriff's Department completed service of the citation and petition on White, who was incarcerated in the Ector County Detention Center. Although White never filed an answer in the suit, he filed a motion to dismiss the case. The Appraisal District amended its petition and moved the trial court to set a tax hearing; the Appraisal District served the motion on all parties and counsel that had appeared. White acknowledged in his appellate brief that he received notice of the tax hearing. The trial court set the tax hearing for January 23, 2017. On that date, the Appraisal District appeared with counsel and announced ready, while White, who was not represented by counsel, did not appear. White also had not requested to appear by other means.

         After the Appraisal District adduced evidence of the delinquent taxes that White owed for his property, as shown in certified copies of tax records, it moved for the admission of that evidence, which the trial court admitted. White presented no evidence in response to the Appraisal District's evidence. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court entered judgment in favor of the Appraisal District.

         II. Issues Presented

         White asserts multiple complaints in his "Writ of Quo Warranto, " which this court accepted as his brief in this appeal. White also filed a reply brief in response to the Appraisal District's brief. Because of the multiplicity of complaints, we do not recite them here but, instead, address them in our analysis below.

         III. Standard of Review

         In a bench trial, the trial court, as factfinder, is the sole judge of the credibility of the witnesses. Sw. Bell Media, Inc. v. Lyles, 825 S.W.2d 488, 493 (Tex. App.- Houston [1st Dist.] 1992, writ denied). When neither party requests findings of fact and conclusions of law following a nonjury trial, all fact findings necessary to support the trial court's judgment are implied. Shields Ltd. P'ship v. Bradberry, 526 S.W.3d 471, 480 (Tex. 2017) (citing Sixth RMA Partners, L.P. v. Sibley, 111 S.W.3d 46, 52 (Tex. 2003)). When, however, as in this cause, a reporter's record is filed, the trial court's implied findings are not conclusive and may be challenged for legal and factual sufficiency. BMC Software Belg., N.V. v. Marchand, 83 S.W.3d 789, 795 (Tex. 2002). We conduct any review of sufficiency challenges to implied findings under the same standards of review that govern sufficiency challenges to jury findings or a trial court's findings of fact. Jistel v. Tiffany Trail Owners Ass'n, Inc., 215 S.W.3d 474, 479 (Tex. App.-Eastland 2006, no pet.) (citing Roberson v. Robinson, 768 S.W.2d 280, 281 (Tex. 1989)). In the absence of findings, we will affirm the judgment of the trial court if it can be upheld on any available legal theory that finds support in the evidence. Point Lookout West, Inc. v. Whorton, 742 S.W.2d 277, 278 (Tex. 1987).

         IV. Analysis

         A. White has asserted complaints on appeal that either were not preserved or have been waived.

         White asserts many complaints that are unrelated to his appeal of a delinquent tax case. White first argues that this court should grant his "Writ of Quo Warranto" because of alleged bad acts by several county employees. White also complains of alleged fraudulent acts by a now-deceased justice of the peace. Quo warranto proceedings provide the exclusive means by which the public may protect itself from unlawful occupancy of a public office. Norville v. Parnell, 118 S.W.3d 503, 505 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2003, pet. denied). However, White's appeal arises out of a suit over his failure to pay property taxes. None of his complaints in his brief about alleged county employees' actions and a deceased justice of the peace were before the trial court, nor was his quo warranto claim before the trial court. A judgment must be based upon pleadings, and as the Texas Supreme Court has stated, "[A] plaintiff may not sustain a favorable judgment on an unpleaded cause of action, in the absence of trial by consent . . . ." Stoner v. Thompson, 578 S.W.2d 679, 682-83 (Tex. 1979) (quoting Oil Field Haulers Ass'n v. R.R. Comm'n, 381 S.W.2d 183, 191 (Tex. 1964)). White's unpleaded complaints were not tried by consent and are ...

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