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Franklin v. James

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

May 17, 2018

PEGGY FRANKLIN, Appellant,
v.
DAVID JAMES, CINDY JAMES, TERRAL BULLOCK, AND CHERYL BULLOCK, Appellees.

          On appeal from the 24th District Court of DeWitt County, Texas.

          Before Justices Rodriguez, Contreras, and Hinojosa

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NELDA V. RODRIGUEZ Justice

         By five issues, appellant Peggy Franklin appeals pro se from a judgment partitioning a tract of land. Franklin challenges certain evidence that was introduced at trial. Because the record contains no indication of what this evidence might have been, we affirm.

         I. Background

         A. Proceedings Before the Trial Court

         On February 25, 2016, appellees David James, Cindy James, Terral Bullock, and Cheryl Bullock filed their original petition for partition of fifty acres of land situated in DeWitt County, Texas ("the land"). Appellees alleged that together, they owned an undivided 54.767% interest in the land. According to the petition, the remaining 45.233% was owned, in fractions, by twenty-eight defendants or their unknown heirs.[1]

         Appellees sued Franklin, among others. They alleged that Franklin owned a .0296% interest in the land. Franklin retained counsel and, on March 24, 2016, filed an answer and general denial. On June 21, 2016, Franklin joined three other defendants in filing a joint amended answer, along with counterclaims for declaratory judgment and a try-title action. Franklin alleged that she had superior title to appellees because she was heir to Dennis Williams, who once owned the land.

         By the time of trial, the appellees had amended their petition to allege that they owned 61.4632% of the land. They continued to assert that Franklin owned a .0296% interest.

         The case was set for a bench trial on December 21, 2016. No reporter's record of the proceedings has been submitted to this Court.

         On March 9, 2017, Franklin submitted a letter to the trial court explaining her view that a certain document introduced into evidence at trial was "not all true-a false document." Franklin attached to her letter what appears to be a death certificate, which, according to the letter, showed that the evidence at trial was false. In her brief to this Court, Franklin does not identify or explain the document in question, or how the death certificate might relate to that document.

         Franklin's attorney filed a motion to withdraw on March 23, 2017.

         On April 11, 2017, the trial court signed a statement of evidence describing the trial proceedings and the evidence presented. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 244. According to the statement, six exhibits were introduced at trial: a survey map of the land, two deeds conveying the land, two family history charts, and a list of all owners and their respective interests. The appellate record does not include a volume of trial exhibits, and Franklin does not explain if-or where-these exhibits appear in the clerk's record.

         Also on April 11, 2017, the trial court entered a judgment granting the partition. The judgment declared that appellees together had an undivided 61.4632% interest in the land, Franklin had an undivided .0296% interest, and other defendants shared the remaining interest. The judgment provided that because partition in kind was ...


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