Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the 156th District Court of Bee County, Texas.
Chief Justice Contreras and Justices Benavides and Longoria
M. BENAVIDES, JUSTICE
issues, appellant Charles Moorhead challenges the trial
court's dismissal of his pro se, in forma
pauperis suit pursuant to Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil
Practice and Remedies Code. See Tex. Civ. Prac.
& Rem. Code Ann. §§ 14.001-.014. Moorhead seeks
an amended final judgment and new trial to determine the
merits of his original claims. We affirm.
an inmate currently housed in the McConnell Unit of the Texas
Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in Bee County, Texas,
filed a civil suit against appellees, five  TDCJ employees in
their official and individual capacities. The allegations
included: conversion, breach of contract, retaliation, and
violation of Moorhead's First Amendment right to free
exercise of religion. See U.S. Const. amend. I.
After submitting administrative grievance forms to the prison
grievance system, Moorhead received a decision on December 8,
2017 stating his complaints had been previously addressed or
appealed the decision by mailing his petition to the trial
court on January 12, 2018. The petition was file-stamped by
the trial court on January 18, 2018. The Texas Attorney
General filed an amicus curiae brief. Without a hearing, the
trial court dismissed Moorhead's suit for failing to
comply with Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practice and
Remedies Code. This appeal followed.
issues and subparts, breach of contract, conversion,
retaliation, and violation of his First Amendment right to
free exercise of religion, Moorhead contends the trial court
erred in dismissing his claims for failure to comply with
Standard of Review and Applicable Law
14 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code governs
inmate litigation. Id. The court reviews the
dismissal of inmate lawsuits for abuse of discretion.
Thomas v. Knight, 52 S.W.3d 292, 294 (Tex.
App.-Corpus Christi-Edinburg 2001, pet. denied). To establish
an abuse of discretion, the appellant must show that the
trial court's actions were arbitrary or unreasonable
considering all surrounding circumstances. See Smithson
v. Cessna Aircraft Co., 665 S.W.2d 439, 443 (Tex. 1984);
see also Readeaux v. Velasquez, No. 13-13-00217-CV,
2013 WL 4399189, at *1 (Tex. App.- Corpus Christi-Edinburg
2013, no pet.) (mem. op.).
prison grievance system provides an administrative remedy for
claims that would consume valuable judicial resources with
little offsetting benefit. Diles v. Henderson, 76
S.W.3d 807, 810 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi-Edinburg 2002, no
pet.); see Amir-Sharif v. Quarterman, No.
13-09-00504-CV, 2010 WL 3279501, at *2 (Tex. App.-Corpus
Christi-Edinburg 2013, no pet.) (mem. op.). Chapter 14 states
that an inmate must receive a decision from the highest
authority within the prison grievance system before filing a
claim in state court concerning the same issues. Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 14.005; see Tex.
Gov't Code Ann. § 501.008(d). Once an inmate
receives a final decision from the grievance system, the
inmate has thirty-one days to file their petition in state
court. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 14.005(b).
Suits that are not filed within the allotted time frame are
barred from proceeding. Id; see Diles, 76
S.W.3d at 810; see also Readeaux, 2013 WL 4399189,
at *1. Trial courts are required to dismiss any claims filed
outside of the required deadline. See Tex. Civ.
Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 14.005(b); Lewis v.
Johnson, 97 S.W.3d 885, 888 (Tex. App.-Corpus
Christi-Edinburg 2013, no pet.).
received the final decision from the grievance system
regarding his complaints on December 8, 2017. His deadline to
file was January 8, 2018, thirty-one days from the time he
received the decision. See Tex. Civ. Prac. &
Rem. Code Ann. § 14.005(b). The Texas Supreme Court has
adopted the "prisoner mailbox rule," meaning
Moorhead's petition was deemed "filed" on the
date the prison authorities received the document to be
mailed: January 12, 2018. See Ramos v. Richardson,
228 S.W.3d 671, 673 (Tex. 2007) (per curiam) (extending the
"prisoner mailbox rule" to inmate litigation);
see also Warner v. Glass, 135 S.W.3d 681, 684 (Tex.
2004) (per curiam); Hoffman, 2013 WL 5434679, at *1.
Moorhead filed his petition four days late on January 12,
therefore the trial court was required to dismiss his ...