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Jackson v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

August 22, 2019

LENNIE JACKSON, Appellant
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A. AS TRUSTEE FOR THE MASTR ASSET BACKED SECURITES TRUST 2007-NCW MORTGAGE PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES SERIES 2007-NCW, Appellee IN RE LENNIE JACKSON, Relator

          On Appeal from County Civil Court at Law No. 3 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 1128290

         ORIGINAL PROCEEDING WRIT OF MANDAMUS

          Panel consists of Justices Wise, Jewell and Hassan.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         Lennie Jackson appeals from a final judgment in favor of Wells Fargo, N.A., as Trustee for the MASTR Asset Backed Securities Trust 2007-NCW Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates Series 2007-NCW ("Wells Fargo") in a forcible detainer case. Jackson also filed a petition for writ of mandamus asking this court to compel the Honorable LaShawn A. Williams to vacate the judgment and the writ of possession as void. Wells Fargo filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as moot because Jackson is no longer in possession of the property. The motion was taken with the appeal, and the appeal and the original proceeding were consolidated. We grant the motion to dismiss, vacate the judgment, dismiss the appeal, and dismiss the petition.

         Background

         On February 22, 2007, John and Dorothy Merritt executed a deed of trust to secure a home equity extension of credit. The Merritts defaulted under the terms of the loan and security instrument, foreclosure proceedings were initiated, and Wells Fargo purchased the property at a non-judicial foreclosure sale. On January 2, 2019, Wells Fargo sent written notice to vacate the premises and demand for possession to the Personal Representative of John Merritt and Dorothy Merritt and/or All Occupants of the subject property.

         On January 22, 2019, after the property was not vacated, Wells Fargo filed an original petition for forcible detainer in justice court. Jackson was an occupant of the property. Wells Fargo alleged that it is the owner of the property through a trustee's deed and the defendants and all occupants, who resided on the property prior Wells Fargo's acquisition of the property, continued to reside on the property.

         On February 6, 2019, the justice court signed a default judgment for Wells Fargo because the defendants did not answer or appear in the case. That same day, Jackson filed a "Statement to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction," asserting that the justice court lacked jurisdiction over the forcible-detainer action because a case seeking to void the deed of trust was pending in federal district court. The next day, Jackson filed a notice of appeal to the county civil court at law, in which he stated that he was in the clerk's office when the case was called.

         The trial court held a de novo non-jury trial on March 28, 2019, and signed a final judgment in favor of Wells Fargo and ordered that a writ of possession issue if the property was not vacated by April 8, 2019. Jackson filed a motion to set aside the final judgment on the ground that it is void due to lack of jurisdiction, alleged fraud on the court, and alleged criminal acts of counsel for Wells Fargo. The trial court held a hearing and denied the motion on the record.

         Jackson filed an appeal from the final judgment. Wells Fargo, in turn, filed a motion to dismiss the appeal as moot, contending that this court has no jurisdiction over the appeal because Jackson did not adequately supersede the judgment and Wells Fargo had executed a writ to enforce the judgment and obtained possession of the property. Jackson subsequently filed a petition for writ of mandamus, asking this court to compel the trial court to set aside its writ of possession as void. We consolidated the appeal and the original proceeding.

         Appeal

         As an initial matter, we address Wells Fargo's argument in its motion to dismiss that the appeal is moot because Jackson did not file a supersedeas bond, the writ of possession was executed, and Wells Fargo has possession of the property.

         A case becomes moot if a controversy ceases to exist between the parties at any stage of the proceedings, including the appeal. In re Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., 166 S.W.3d 732, 737 (Tex. 2005) (orig. proceeding). A case is moot when the court's action on the merits cannot affect the parties rights or interests. Heckman v. Williamson Cty., 369 S.W.3d 137, 162 (Tex. 2012). When a case becomes moot, the court loses jurisdiction and cannot hear the case, because any decision would constitute an advisory opinion. State ex rel. Best v. Harper, 562 S.W.3d 1, 6 (Tex. 2018). If a case is ...


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