PROCEEDING WRIT OF MANDAMUS County Civil Court at Law No.
1Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 1103791
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Busby and
January 8, 2018, relator Paul Simpson filed a petition for
writ of mandamus in this court. See also Tex.
Gov't Code Ann. § 22.221 (West Supp. 2017); see
also Tex. R. App. P. 52. In the petition, relator asks
this court to compel the Honorable George Barnstone,
presiding judge of the Harris County Civil Court at Law No.
1, to vacate his First Amended Temporary Restraining Order
("Amended TRO"). This order directs Paul Simpson,
the Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, and Stan
Stanart, the Harris County Clerk (collectively,
"Defendants"), to reinstate Paul Coselli's name
on the March 2018 Republican Primary Ballot as a candidate
for the 281st District Court of Harris County, and restrains
Defendants from removing Coselli's name from the ballot.
Because the county court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction,
the Amended TRO is void. We therefore conditionally grant the
petition for writ of mandamus.
and Procedural Background
alleges that on December 19, 2017, Simpson, in his capacity
as Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, accepted
Coselli's application to be on the Republican primary
ballot and his filing fee of $2, 500.
December 19, Sylvia Matthews filed a challenge to
Coselli's application, alleging that Coselli's
application and supporting petitions were defective for
various reasons. At the Harris County Republican Party's
request, Coselli filed a response to Matthews's
challenge. Simpson rejected Coselli's application on
December 29, 2017.
January 2, 2018, Coselli filed suit in Harris County Civil
Court at Law No. 1 against Simpson, as the chairman of the
Harris County Republican Party, and Stan Stanart, the Harris
County Clerk, seeking a temporary restraining order and
temporary and permanent injunctions restraining and enjoining
Simpson from removing Coselli from the Republican primary
ballot. In his petition, Coselli also asserts claims for
fraud in the inducement and money had and received, seeking
actual damages of $2, 500 (which Coselli paid as a filing
fee) as well as exemplary damages.
January 2, 2018, Coselli sought and obtained a temporary
restraining order that that restrained Simpson and the Harris
County Republican Party from removing Coselli's name from
the Republican primary ballot (the "TRO"). On
January 5, Coselli filed a motion to modify the TRO. On
January 8, the county court signed the Amended TRO, which
directed both Defendants to reinstate Coselli on the March
2018 Republican Primary Ballot and restrained Defendants from
removing Coselli's name from the ballot. A hearing on the
request for temporary injunction is set for January 16, 2018.
obtain mandamus relief, a relator generally must show both
that the trial court clearly abused its discretion and that
the relator has no adequate remedy by appeal. In re
Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 148 S.W.3d 124,
135-36 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding). A trial court clearly
abuses its discretion if it reaches a decision so arbitrary
and unreasonable as to amount to a clear and prejudicial
error of law, or if the trial court clearly fails to analyze
the law correctly or apply the law correctly to the facts.
In re Cerberus Capital Mgmt. L.P., 164 S.W.3d 379,
382 (Tex. 2005) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam). A trial
court does not have the discretion to make an erroneous legal
conclusion even in an unsettled area of law. See Huie v.
DeShazo, 922 S.W.2d 920, 927-28 (Tex. 1996).
order is void, the relator need not show the relator lacks an
adequate appellate remedy, and mandamus relief is
appropriate. In re Vaishangi, Inc., 442 S.W.3d
256, 261 (Tex. 2014) (orig. proceeding). An order is void
if the court rendering it had no jurisdiction of the
subject-matter jurisdiction. See Mapco, Inc. v.
S.W.2d 700, 703 (Tex. 1990). Whether a pleader has
alleged facts that demonstrate a trial court's
subject-matter jurisdiction is a question of law reviewed de
novo. Sampson v. Univ. of Texas at Austin, 500
S.W.3d 380, 384 (Tex. 2016).
argues, among other things, that the Amended TRO is void
because the county court was without subject-matter
jurisdiction to grant ...