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In re Welvaert

Court of Appeals of Texas, Tenth District

May 1, 2019

IN RE THOMAS MICHAEL WELVAERT

          Original Proceeding

          Before Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis, and Justice Neill

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          REX D. DAVIS JUSTICE.

         In this original proceeding, Relator Thomas Michael Welvaert seeks to compel the Judge of the County Court at Law No. 2 of Brazos County to respond to him that his "Motion to Voluntary Termination [sic] of Parental Rights" has been filed and to rule on the motion.[1] Welvaert also mentions that he has not received any reply from the Brazos County District Clerk.[2]

         We begin by addressing Welvaert's petition for writ of mandamus to the extent that it seeks mandamus relief against the district clerk. We do not have jurisdiction to issue a writ of mandamus against a district clerk unless necessary to enforce our jurisdiction. In re Smith, 263 S.W.3d 93, 95 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2006, orig. proceeding); see Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 22.221. Welvaert has not shown that a writ of mandamus directed to the district clerk is necessary to enforce our jurisdiction. Therefore, we do not have jurisdiction to issue a writ of mandamus against the district clerk. To the extent that Welvaert's petition for writ of mandamus seeks relief against the district clerk, it is thus dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

         We now turn to that portion of Welvaert's petition for writ of mandamus in which Welvaert seeks to compel the trial court judge to respond to him that his "Motion to Voluntary Termination [sic] of Parental Rights" has been filed and to rule on the motion.

         To obtain mandamus relief, a relator must show both that the trial court has 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). Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 21(a) states:

Filing and Service Required. Every pleading, plea, motion, or application to the court for an order, whether in the form of a motion, plea, or other form of request, unless presented during a hearing or trial, must be filed with the clerk of the court in writing, must state the grounds therefor, must set forth the relief or order sought, and at the same time a true copy must be served on all other parties, and must be noted on the docket.

Tex. R. Civ. P. 21(a). Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 74 further provides:

The filing of pleadings, other papers and exhibits as required by these rules shall be made by filing them with the clerk of the court, except that the judge may permit the papers to be filed with him, in which event he shall note thereon the filing date and time and forthwith transmit them to the office of the clerk.

Id. R. 74.

         Here, the record indicates that because the district clerk had not responded and confirmed the filing of several other documents that Welvaert had previously sent to him, Welvaert decided not to file his "Motion to Voluntary Termination [sic] of Parental Rights" with the district clerk. Instead, Welvaert mailed the motion directly to the trial court judge on November 3, 2018, and requested that he "accept this motion and rule on it." Rule 74 states, however, that the judge may (not shall) permit papers to be filed with him. Id. We therefore cannot conclude that the trial court judge clearly abused his discretion by not responding to Welvaert that his "Motion to Voluntary Termination [sic] of Parental Rights" had been filed.[3]

         Moreover, because there is nothing in the record before this Court to establish that Welvaert's "Motion to Voluntary Termination [sic] of Parental Rights" has been properly filed, we cannot conclude that the trial court judge clearly abused his discretion by not ruling on the motion.

Mandamus may issue to compel a trial court to rule on a motion which has been pending before the court for a reasonable period of time. See In re Hearn, 137 S.W.3d 681, 685 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2004, orig. proceeding); In re Keeter, 134 S.W.3d 250, 252-53 (Tex. App.-Waco 2003, orig. proceeding); In re Chavez, 62 S.W.3d 225, 228 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 2001, orig. proceeding); Barnes v. State, 832 S.W.2d 424, 426 (Tex. App.- Houston [1st Dist.] 1992, orig. proceeding); see also In re Shredder Co., 225 S.W.3d 676, 679 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2006, orig. proceeding). To obtain mandamus relief for such refusal, a relator must establish: (1) the motion was properly filed and has been pending for a reasonable time; (2) the relator requested a ruling on the motion; and (3) the ...

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