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Robles v. Rivera

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

June 26, 2018

NENIDIA GUILLEN ROBLES, Appellant
v.
RAFAEL RIVERA, Appellee

          On Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. CC-17-01445-B

          Before Justices Francis, Brown, and Stoddart

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CRAIG STODDART JUSTICE

         This is an appeal from the county court at law's final judgment in an eviction case. The appeal presents two jurisdictional issues: (1) whether the county court at law had jurisdiction over an appeal from the justice court and (2) whether this Court has jurisdiction over the merits of this appeal under the statute governing appeals in eviction cases. We conclude the county court at law had jurisdiction because the last day to file the appeal fell on Presidents Day, a legal holiday, which extended the time to file the appeal to the next business day. However, we conclude we do not have jurisdiction over appellant's second issue because it raises an issue of possession relating to property that is not used exclusively for residential purposes. See Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 24.007. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Background

         Rafael Rivera (Landlord) filed an eviction suit against Nenidia Guillen Robles (Tenant) in the justice court, alleging she failed to pay rent for several months and refused to vacate the property after the commercial lease terminated. The justice court rendered judgment for Tenant on February 15, 2017. Landlord signed an appeal bond on Monday, February 20, 2017, which was Presidents' Day. The justice of the peace also signed the bond the same day indicating her examination and approval. The file stamp on the bond, however, indicates it was received by the justice court on February 21, 2017.

         Following a trial de novo, the county court at law rendered judgment in favor of Landlord for possession of the property, unpaid rent, and attorney's fees. The court also signed findings of fact and conclusions of law. Tenant argues the county court at law did not have jurisdiction to review the justice court decision because the appeal bond was not filed within five days of the judgment and that the evidence at the trial de novo was insufficient to prove Landlord gave proper notice to vacate the property.

         Analysis

         Appellant contends the county court at law's judgment must be vacated because that court did not acquire jurisdiction. Although we conclude we do not have jurisdiction over the merits of appellant's appeal, we have jurisdiction to determine whether the lower court had jurisdiction. See Rice v. Pinney, 51 S.W.3d 705, 707-08 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2001, no pet.) (concluding this Court had jurisdiction to determine whether county court at law had subject matter jurisdiction to enter writ of possession). A judgment rendered by a court without subject matter jurisdiction is void. In re United Servs. Auto. Ass'n, 307 S.W.3d 299, 309-10 (Tex. 2010) (orig. proceeding). When a party appeals from a void order and the appellate court lacks jurisdiction to consider the appeal, the proper procedure is for the appellate court to declare the order void and dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. See Freedom Commc'ns, Inc. v. Coronado, 372 S.W.3d 621, 623 (Tex. 2012) ("[A]ppellate courts do not have jurisdiction to address the merits of appeals from void orders or judgments; rather, they have jurisdiction only to determine that the order or judgment underlying the appeal is void and make appropriate orders based on that determination."); State ex rel. Latty v. Owens, 907 S.W.2d 484, 486 (Tex. 1995). Therefore, we address appellant's first issue before discussing our jurisdiction over her second issue.

         A. Jurisdiction of County Court at Law

         A party may appeal a judgment in an eviction case by filing a bond, making a cash deposit, or filing a sworn statement of inability to pay with the justice court within five days after the judgment is signed. Tex.R.Civ.P. 510.9(a). An appeal of a justice court's ruling is perfected when a bond, cash deposit, or statement of inability to pay is filed in accordance with this rule. Tex.R.Civ.P. 510.9(f). Rule 500.5 applies to the computation of time in eviction cases. Tex.R.Civ.P. 510.2. Rule 500.5 provides:

(a) Computation of Time. To compute a time period in these rules:
(1)exclude the day of the event that triggers the period;
(2)count every day, including Saturdays, Sundays, and legal ...

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