Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
THIRTY-EIGHT THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS ($38, 400.00) UNITED STATES CURRENCY, Appellant
The STATE of Texas, Appellee
the 408th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2016-CI-00346 Honorable Antonia Arteaga, Judge
Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa,
Justice Irene Rios, Justice
Elena D. Chapa, Justice
Jacob Sosa appeals a summary judgment the trial court
rendered in favor of the State in a civil forfeiture case. As
the movant, the State was required to do more than raise a
fact issue supporting its case; the State had the burden to
conclusively establish all facts demonstrating its
entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Because the State
failed to satisfy this burden, we reverse and remand for
underlying suit is a civil forfeiture proceeding. The State
filed suit, alleging $38, 400 in cash, seized by law
enforcement officers from Sosa, was contraband subject to
forfeiture. The State alleged Sosa had gained the proceeds
from the commission of a felony, specifically the
"delivery, manufacturing, and/or possession of
methamphetamine and marijuana, a controlled substance"
Sosa filed an answer, the State filed a motion for summary
judgment and argued, "There is no genuine issue as to
any material fact regarding each and every element of the
Plaintiff's cause of action, and Plaintiff is entitled to
a judgment as a matter of law." Sosa did not file a
response. The evidence the State attached to its motion
included a police report describing the events leading up to
the seizure of the money, as well as Sosa's discovery
responses and a judgment of conviction for possession of
methamphetamine, which was entered upon Sosa's plea of
guilt and which suspended the imposition of his sentence.
to the police report, Sosa and two women were at a motel,
where the police had responded to a disturbance. An officer
conducted a protective sweep of Sosa's hotel room and
"located approximately 6.1 grams of alleged
methamphetamine in two baggies and a large amount of money in
[Sosa's] jacket pocket, another large amount of money was
found in a black computer bag[, ] a total of $38, 400 was
found, 2 baggies of alleged marijuana to total approximately
5.5 grams [were] found in the computer bag and on the bath
room counter top."
to his discovery responses, which the State attached to its
summary judgment motion, Sosa found the money on the
roadside. He explained in a response to an interrogatory:
On December 8, 2015, as I was walking on the side of 181
South, toward my friend Billy's old trailer, by Foster
Rd., I came upon a black computer bag, which contained canned
food, radio controlled car stuff, and a blue Wal-Mart bag
that contained about $44, 000. This occurred about 3:30 a.m.
denied that the cash was drug money and that he ever sold
drugs. The State also attached a letter from Sosa explaining
the methamphetamine belonged to one of the women he was with
at the motel, and the money he found was "all brand new
money, one hundred dollar bank notes in $5, 000 bank
trial court set the case for a bench trial on March 29, 2018.
On that date, the trial court signed an order granting the
State's motion for summary judgment and rendered summary
judgment in favor of the State. Sosa timely filed a notice of
of Review & Applicable Law
forfeiture proceedings are civil in nature, and the rules of
civil procedure apply. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc.
art. 59.5(a), (b); $9, 050.00 in U.S. Currency v.
State, 874 S.W.2d 158, 161 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th
Dist.] 1994, writ denied). The State filed a motion for
summary judgment, arguing it was entitled to judgment as a
matter of law because its evidence established there is
"no genuine issue as to any material fact regarding each
and every element of [its] cause of action." As such,
the State's motion was a traditional motion for summary
judgment under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 166a.
See Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(a), (c) ...