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Chevriere v. Mitchell

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

May 7, 2019

JOHN PAUL CHEVRIERE, Appellant
v.
ROSE MARIE LORRAINE CHEVRIER MITCHELL A/K/A ROSE MARIE MITCHELL, Appellee

          On Appeal from the Probate Court No. 2 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case No. 469, 115

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Goodman and Countiss.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Gordon Goodman Justice.

         John Paul Chevriere filed an application to probate the will of his deceased stepmother but the trial court dismissed the application for lack of jurisdiction. On appeal, Chevriere contends that the trial court had jurisdiction and therefore erred in dismissing his application. We agree and therefore reverse and remand.

         BACKGROUND

         Chevriere filed his application in Probate Court Number 2 of Harris County, alleging that his deceased stepmother's fixed place of residence was in that county. His sister, Rose Marie Lorraine Chevriere Mitchell filed a motion to transfer venue to Fort Bend County, alleging that her deceased stepmother's fixed place of residence was there. Subject to her motion to transfer venue, Mitchell filed an opposition to her brother's probate application.

         Without deciding Mitchell's venue motion, the trial court concluded that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction. On its own motion, the court dismissed Chevriere's application for lack of jurisdiction.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Jurisdiction

         A. Standard of review and applicable law

         Subject-matter jurisdiction is essential to a court's authority to decide a case. Tex. Ass'n of Bus. v. Tex. Air Ctrl. Bd., 852 S.W.2d 440, 443 (Tex. 1993). It cannot be presumed or waived. Id. at 443-44. Trial courts may inquire as to whether they have subject-matter jurisdiction on their own motion at any time. James v. Underwood, 438 S.W.3d 704, 713 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2014, no pet.).

         A court reviews the pleadings and any relevant evidence in deciding whether it has subject-matter jurisdiction. Bush v. Lone Oak Club, 546 S.W.3d 766, 772 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st. Dist.] 2018, pet. pending). When the jurisdictional facts are undisputed, the existence of subject-matter jurisdiction is a question of law. Tex. Dep't of Parks & Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 226 (Tex. 2004). Under these circumstances, we review the trial court's jurisdictional decision de novo. Id.

         Harris County's statutory probate court has subject-matter jurisdiction over probate proceedings. Tex. Est. Code §§ 32.002(c), 32.005(a); In re Jacky, 506 S.W.3d 550, 554 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, no pet.). Probate proceedings encompass applications to probate a will and for the issuance of letters testamentary. Tex. Est. Code § 31.001(1)-(2); Jacky, 506 S.W.3d at 554.

         B.Analy ...


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