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In re Vasos

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

April 26, 2018

IN RE FRANK VASOS, Relator

         Original Proceeding on Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus

          Panel consists of Justices Bland, Lloyd, and Caughey.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RUSSELL LLOYD JUSTICE

         Relator, Frank Vasos ("Vasos"), has filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus, challenging the justice court's judgment of contempt for an alleged violation of a writ of reentry.[1] We grant the application.

         Background

         Vasos and Vasos Bar-B-Q, Inc. (collectively "Landlords") are landlords, and Taso Pantazopoulos, Patricia Pantazopoulos, and APS Food Services, Inc., doing business as Anonymous Café, (collectively "Tenants"), are tenants under a commercial lease for premises used for the Anonymous Café. In October 2017, Tenants filed a sworn complaint for reentry, under section 93.003 of the Texas Property Code, alleging that Landlords had locked Tenants out of the leased premises.[2] On October 5, 2017, the trial court issued a writ of reentry for the premises described as "9920 Highway 90-A #D 130[, ] Sugar Land TX 77478, " finding "that it [was] reasonable to believe that an unlawful lockout of Tenant[s] [had] occurred."[3] The writ directed the sheriff or constable to "deliver possession" of the premises to Tenants and instruct Landlords "to release possession of the premises to Tenant[s] immediately." The officer's return shows that a copy of the writ was delivered to Vasos on October 5, 2017.

         The mandamus record indicates that Tenants and Landlords shared use of a kitchen and bathrooms and disputed whether the shared kitchen and bathrooms were within the premises described as "#D 130." On November 2, 2017, the trial court signed an order indicating that the Tenants had filed, and the trial court had considered, a "Second Emergency Application for Writ of Re-Entry." The court concluded "that the existing Writ of Re-Entry includ[ed] use of the kitchen and bathrooms, as stated in the original application for writ of re-entry" and ordered that Tenants "be granted access to the kitchen and bathrooms" and "[a]ny barriers blocking such access should be removed, not later than 4:00 p.m., on November 2, 2017." Also on November 2, 2017, the trial court signed the following show cause order:

Case No. 17-JSC41-01205
Frank Vasos, Vasos Bar-B-Q, Inc.
Please be advised that the above referenced case is set for a Show Cause Hearing on November 03, 2017, at 9:00 AM.
You Are Therefore Required To Appear At This Time At 12919 Dairy Ashford, Suite 100 Sugar Land TX 77478.
On November 3, 2017, the trial court held a hearing and signed a judgment for contempt:
On this November 3, 2017, the Court has exercised its inherent authority and the authority granted by Section 21.002, Government Code, to compel obedience of Court orders.
The Court finds Frank Vasos in contempt of Court for indirect contemptuous behavior of the Order for Writ of Re-Entry, in ...

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