Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 4 Dallas County,
Texas Trial Court Cause No. CC-16-05241-D
Justices Francis, Evans, and Boatright
Gabriel Isaac appeals from a final judgment that included
authorization of his eviction from his
apartment. Isaac asserts that the trial court lacked
jurisdiction and erred by failing to postpone the trial.
Isaac also accuses the Villas del Zocalo 3
("Villas") of committing "fraud upon the
court" by: (1) changing Isaac's name in the caption
from "Isaac" to "Issac"; (2) failing to
serve pleadings and motions in accordance with the local
rules; and (3) fabricating evidence. We affirm.
October 14, 2016, Villas filed a petition for eviction
against Isaac in Dallas County justice court. The justice
court ordered that Villas receive possession of the premises
and past due rent. Isaac appealed the judgment to the county
filed a first amended petition for forcible detainer in the
county court. Isaac filed an answer and countersuit. Villas
then filed a plea to the jurisdiction and motion to strike
Isaac's counterclaim. The county court granted
Villas's plea to the jurisdiction and motion to strike in
part. The county court severed the counterclaim and gave
Isaac thirty days to pay a filing fee or demonstrate
inability to pay. A jury trial was conducted on Villas's
forcible detainer action and the jury found in favor of
Villas. The county court ordered Isaac to vacate the
apartment and pay damages and fees. Isaac then filed this
start with the admonition that an appellant's brief must
contain a clear and concise argument for the contentions made
and citations to authorities and the record. Tex.R.App.P.
38.1(i). Rule 38 requires a party to provide us with such
discussion of the facts and authorities relied upon as may be
necessary to present the issue. Gonzalez v. VATR Const.
LLC, No. 05-12-00277-CV, 2013 WL 6504813, at *4 (Tex.
App.-Dallas Dec. 12, 2013, no pet.). Although we construe pro
se pleadings and briefs liberally, we hold pro se litigants
to the same standards as licensed attorneys and require them
to comply with the applicable laws and rules of procedure.
In re N.E.B, 251 S.W.3d 211, 211-12 (Tex.
App.-Dallas 2008, no pet.); see also Gonzalez, 2013
WL 6504813 at *4 ("Appellate courts must construe
briefing requirements reasonably and liberally, but a party
asserting error on appeal still must put forth some specific
argument and analysis showing that the record and the law
support his contention."). To do otherwise would give a
pro se litigant an unfair advantage over a litigant who is
represented by counsel. In re N.E.B., 251 S.W.3d at
212. In addition, to guess at or make an argument for a party
would violate the structure of our system of justice, be
unwise, and change our role from neutral and impartial
decision makers to advocates.
[C]ourts should rely on the adversary system of justice,
which depends on the parties to frame the issues for decision
and assigns to courts the role of neutral arbiter of the
matters that the parties present. Greenlaw v. United
States, 554 U.S. 237, 243 (2008). One rationale for this
system is that the parties and their counsel usually know far
better than the courts what is best for them, so they are
responsible for advancing the facts and arguments entitling
them to relief. Id. at 244. Resolving disputes only
on grounds raised by the parties also serves judicial
economy, keeps courts within their constitutionally assigned
role as impartial and "neutral arbiter[s], "
id. at 243, and enables courts to make well-informed
decisions based on full adversary presentation and testing of
the arguments on either side of the issue at hand.
Ward v. Lamar Univ., 484 S.W.3d 440, 453-54 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2016, no pet.) (footnotes and
Failing to Postpone Trial
second issue, Isaac argues that the trial court abused its
discretion when it failed to grant his motion to postpone
trial. The general rule is that the trial court's refusal
to grant a postponement will not be disturbed unless the
record shows a clear abuse of discretion. Crane v.
Texas Dept. of Transp., 880 S.W.2d 55, 58 (Tex.
App.-Tyler 1994, writ denied). Further, rule 251 provides
that a continuance shall not be granted except for sufficient
cause supported by affidavit, or by consent of the parties,
or by operation of law. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 251.
Here, Isaac requested a continuance on the day of trial and
did not submit a written motion or an affidavit. Isaac argues
that he was entitled to a postponement because he "was
dumped with court proceedings of over (45) forty-five pages,
inside the court-room." These documents included
Villas's motion in limine. Isaac raised this issue to the
court and the court stated as follows:
Look, it's proper to file a motion in limine. They
don't have to do it prior to the trial, so long as
it's done at least the morning of trial before we
actually begin jury selection and the jury trial. They
don't have to do it unless I sign an order saying that
the motion in limine has to be filed by a certain date. That
order did not exist here. It was timely for ...