Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, Beaumont
Submitted on March 26, 2019
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 Montgomery County,
Texas Trial Cause No. 18-30733
McKeithen, C.J., Kreger and Horton, JJ.
MCKEITHEN CHIEF JUSTICE
Prairie RV Park, LLC ("Decker Prairie") filed suit
in the Justice Court of Montgomery County, Texas, to evict
Crystal Kay Martin. The Justice Court found in favor of
Decker Prairie and determined that Martin owed back rent in
the amount of $500. Martin appealed the county court's
judgment to the County Court at Law, and as ordered by the
Justice Court, she paid $500 in back rent into the registry
of the court. The County Court at Law then heard the case by
trial de novo.
trial de novo, which took place on July 23, 2018,
the trial court swore in both Martin, who appeared pro
se, and Decker Prairie's agent, Helena McGuff.
McGuff stated that Martin was currently occupying a property
at Decker Prairie pursuant to a rental agreement, a copy of
which was introduced into evidence. The rental agreement
required monthly payment of rent in the amount of $500 and
provided that if an invoice were not paid in full by 6:00
p.m. on the third of each month, the owner would terminate
the agreement. According to McGuff, Martin paid her rent late
in April and failed to pay her rent in May and July. McGuff
also stated that Martin owed $1000 in back rent. Decker
Prairie gave Martin seventy-two hours to vacate by posting a
notice on her door. A copy of the notice, which was dated May
4, 2018, was introduced into evidence. On the notice was a
handwritten statement that Martin did not pay her April rent
until April 23 rd, and that she had not paid for her May
rent. Martin noted that the notice was taped to her door
rather than hand-delivered as McGuff asserted, but she did
not object to the document's admission into evidence.
the trial judge gave Martin the opportunity to present her
case, she discussed written write-ups and verbal warnings
given to her by Decker Prairie's manager, and she
attempted to introduce documents regarding the write-ups into
evidence. McGuff objected because the documents were not
originals, and they contained handwritten notations, and the
trial judge sustained the objection. With the exception of
stating that she had paid rent on an unspecified date, Martin
did not produce evidence or testify that she had paid the
rent during the months in question. Martin asserted that
McGuff had given her permission to pay rent late without any
late fees, and she also asserted that Decker Prairie's
manager assaulted her. In addition, Martin asserted that
Decker Prairie's manager had offered to compensate her
for watching the manager's dog. The County Court at Law
found Martin guilty of forcible detainer and assessed damages
in the amount of $1500. Martin then appealed the County Court
at Law's judgment to this Court.
does not raise discernible appellate issues in her pro
se brief, but she mentions that she is representing
herself due to being denied services by legal aid. Martin
states that she paid her rent for April 2018 on April 3, 2018
and asserts that she paid her May rent early in the amount of
$500. Martin also discusses the Justice Court's order to
pay money into the registry of the court, and that she
complied. In addition, Martin points out alleged
discrepancies regarding the dates that Decker Prairie stated
that she received notice, and discusses an alleged assault by
an employee of Decker Prairie as well as allegedly being
forced to move due to "harassing threats and
Martin is acting pro se on appeal, we must construe
her brief liberally. See Sterner v. Marathon Oil
Co., 767 S.W.2d 686, 690 (Tex. 1989). However, a pro
se litigant must properly present her case on appeal.
See Valadez v. Avitia, 238 S.W.3d 843, 845
(Tex. App.-El Paso 2007, no pet.); Strange v.
Continental Cas. Co., 126 S.W.3d 676, 678 (Tex.
App.-Dallas 2004, pet. denied). An appellant's brief must
contain (1) a statement of the case concisely stating the
nature of the case, the course of the proceedings, and the
trial court's disposition, each of which should be
supported by citation to the record; (2) a statement of facts
that must be supported by record references; and (3) "a
clear and concise argument for the contentions made, with
appropriate citations to authorities and to the record."
Tex.R.App.P. 38.1(d), (g), (i).
It is the [a]ppellant's burden to discuss her assertions
of error. An appellate court has no duty-or even right-to
perform an independent review of the record and applicable
law to determine whether there was error. Were we to do so,
even on behalf of apro se appellant, we would be
abandoning our role as neutral adjudicators and become an
advocate for that party.
Valadez, 238 S.W.3d at 845 (citations omitted).
Martin's brief presents statements, factual assertions,
and arguments that are unclear and incomplete, and she did
not include citations to the record or to authorities. We
therefore overrule Martin's complaints as inadequately
briefed. See Tex. R. App. P. 38.1; Sterling v.
Alexander,99 S.W.3d 793, 799 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th
Dist] 2003, pet. denied) (finding issue inadequately briefed
when the brief did not contain proper citations to ...