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Brantner v. Robinson

Court of Appeals of Texas, Tenth District

August 14, 2019

CARLTON E. BRANTNER, Appellant
v.
GEORGE M. ROBINSON, Appellee

          From the 87th District Court Freestone County, Texas Trial Court No. CV-17-072-B

          Before Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis, and Justice Neill (Chief Justice Gray concurring)

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JOHN E. NEILL, JUSTICE

         In this appeal, appellant, Carlton E. Brantner, advancing pro se, challenges the trial court's granting of a summary judgment in favor of appellee, George M. Robinson. In what we construe as two issues, Brantner argues that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of Robinson on limitations grounds as to claims Brantner brought in his original petition. Brantner further asserts that the trial court erred by failing to consider his remaining causes of action. We reverse and remand.

         I. Background

         As indicated in his original petition, Brantner's claims all pertain to Robinson's actions as Brantner's trial counsel in a criminal matter. Specifically, Brantner contends that:

On Feb. 9, 2015 George M. Robinson (hereinafter referred to as "Defendant" or "Robinson") wrote a letter to Carlton E. Brantner "Petitioner" in regards to a plea agreement presented to petitioner by defendant and County Attorney Chris Martin on Jan. 22, 2015. Defendant recommended that petitioner accept the plea agreement as it was presented affording a chance for parole at (50%) or when half of sentence was complete. Petitioner accepted and signed the agreement based on the chance for parole and petitioner[']s concerns over the effectiveness of defendant in an actual trial. Defendant continues to explain that as he and County Attorney, in their discussion of the offer prior to presenting it to petitioner, understood the charge to provide parole. Apon [sic] further research, defendant admits that he and County Attorney had a misunderstanding of the law and through miscommunication, erroneously advised petitioner his chance for parole.

         Apparently, a motion for new trial and an 11.07 writ were filed based on this purported error on behalf of Brantner. However, according to Brantner, the motion for new trial and 11.07 writ were denied.

         Thereafter, on March 2, 2017, Brantner filed his original petition in the trial court, requesting the following:

A declaration that the acts and omissions described herein violated Plaintiff's [Brantner] rights under the Constitution and laws of the United States.
A preliminary and permanent injuction [sic] ordering defendant; George Robinson to stop causing harm by slander, libel, or in any other form of retaliation.
. . .
Compensatory damages in the amount of $15, 000 for each act, violation, or omission as discribed [sic] herein and as follows.
1. Damages for deficient performance as trial counsel, providing erroneous advise [sic], and miscommunication leading to ineffective assistance of counsel.
2. Damages for deficient performance in filing the Motion for New Trial in not utilizing all available argument in strategy for relief.
3. Damages for deficient performance in keeping Plaintiff up to date and current in regards to the Motion being overruled and deadline on filing an appeal.
4. For committing perjury on the Aug. 15, 2016 affidavit for falsely stating as fact what evidence state had (videos from computer, letters to victim), and what department investigated.
5. For not reviewing the discovery and other available evidence, for basing his affidavit to reflect that of County Attorney's with the intent to do harm.
6. For violating Attorney-Client Priviledge [sic], and for stating as fact an opinion on said affidavit in violation of the Rules of Texas Jurisprudence Forms: Pleading and Practice Chapter 16.

         Robinson filed an answer, asserting special exceptions, a general denial, and the affirmative defenses of statute of limitations and waiver. Robinson also filed a traditional motion for summary judgment, arguing that Brantner did not plead any cognizable cause of action other than claims of "Negligence-Legal Malpractice" and that the statute of limitations had run by the time Brantner filed his March 2, 2017 original petition.

          After a hearing, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Robinson on his affirmative defense of statute of limitations. Specifically, in its summary-judgment order, the trial court stated:

The Court finds Defendant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law because Plaintiff's claims are solely for Negligence-Legal Malpractice. A two year statute of limitations period applies pursuant to TEX.CIV.PRAC. & REM.CODE ANN. ยง16.003(a). Plaintiff was aware of his injury on February 12, 2015 and further finds that Plaintiff's petition was not filed until March 2, 2017, ...

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