Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the 24th District Court of Victoria County,
Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Benavides and Longoria
filed timely notices of appeal from the trial court's
ruling in appellate cause numbers 13-17-00620-CV and
13-17-00643-CV. Appellant asserts that he cannot afford to
prosecute these appeals. Consequently, appellant has filed a
"Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court
Costs" pursuant to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure
145. Tex.R.Civ.P. 145(a) (providing that "[a] party who
files a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court
Costs cannot be required to pay costs except by order of the
court as provided by this rule"). The court reporter
contested appellant's statement. See id. R.
145(f)(3) (providing that a "court reporter may move to
require the [person] to prove the inability to afford
costs"). Upon receiving the court reporter's
contest, we abated these appeals to the trial court for an
evidentiary hearing on the matter. See id. R.
145(f)(5) (providing that a person who files a statement of
inability to afford payment of costs "may not be
required to pay costs without an oral evidentiary
hearing"). After a hearing on the matter, the trial
court sustained the court reporter's contest and found
that appellant is able to afford payment of costs. Appellant
now appeals the trial court's order, which we review for
an abuse of discretion. See id. R. 145(g)(1)
(permitting a person to appeal a trial court's order
requiring him to pay costs); see also Arevalo v.
Millan, 983 S.W.2d 803, 804 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st
Dist.] 1998, no pet.) (applying an abuse-of-discretion
standard to review a trial court's order requiring
appellant to pay costs).
penalty of perjury, appellant represents that he no longer
receives worker's compensation for a job-related injury
he sustained, nor does he receive any other form of
need-based public benefits. He states that he is currently
unemployed with zero monthly income, has $25 in his bank
account, owns one car, and cares for a fifteen-year-old son
who depends on him financially. He also states that he owns
two mobile homes that were built in the early 1980's,
each worth $1, 000. Appellant further states that his monthly
expenses total $1, 437 and that he is behind on his bills.
appellee nor the court reporter made any attempt to rebut
these statements at the hearing, and the trial court gave no
indication that it disbelieved appellant's testimony.
Instead, the trial court found that appellant had the
financial wherewithal to afford costs because he listed
"2 motor homes" as assets. Appellant responds that
the trial court's finding essentially means that he will
have to sell his place of abode and "live on the
streets" in order to afford costs. According to
appellant, this amounts to an abuse of discretion. We agree.
The comment to Rule 145 states:
The issue is not merely whether a person can pay costs, but
whether the person can afford to pay costs. A person
may have sufficient cash on hand to pay filing fees, but
the person cannot afford the fees if paying them would
preclude the person from paying for basic essentials, like
housing or food.
Id. (emphasis added); see id. (declaring
that "[a]ccess to the civil justice system cannot be
denied because a person cannot afford to pay court
costs"). By focusing exclusively on appellant's
place of abode as an available asset, the trial court did not
properly consider whether appellant can afford to pay
costs without compromising the basic essential of
housing. Under the current version of Rule 145, this is the
critical inquiry. See id.
Rule 145(f)(6) provides that "[a]n order requiring [a
person] to pay costs must be supported by detailed
findings that the [person] can afford to pay
costs." Id. R. 145(f)(6) (emphasis added).
Other than identifying appellant's mobile homes as
assets, the trial court made no other finding to support its
conclusion that appellant had the ability to afford payment
of costs. We conclude that this single finding is deficient
to satisfy Rule 145(f)(6)'s requirement that the trial
court's order be supported by "detailed
findings." See id.; see also Kelly Dean
Hollingsworth v. Walaal Corp., No. 05-17-00555-CV, 2017
WL 2492788, at *2 (Tex. App.-Dallas June 9, 2017, no pet.)
(mem. op.) (holding that the trial court abused its
discretion in ordering payment of costs because its findings
were not "'detailed findings that [the person] can
afford to pay costs' as required by rule 145").
reverse the trial court's order, and we order that
appellant may proceed with these appeals without payment of
 "Costs" as used in this
context means "any fee charged by the court or an
officer of the court that could be taxed in a bill of costs,
including, but not limited to, filing fees, fees for issuance
and service of process, fees for a court-appointed
professional, and fees charged by the clerk or court reporter
for preparation of the appellate record." Tex.R.Civ.P.
 Simultaneous with this order, we hand
down memorandum opinions in the underlying causes. Based on
our disposition in those memorandum opinions, it is not
necessary for the court reporter to prepare or file ...