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Read v. Naylor

Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth

August 26, 2019

Donald Read, Appellant
v.
Lorie Naylor, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 141st District Court Tarrant County, Texas Trial Court No. 141-293386-17

          Before Sudderth, C.J.; Gabriel and Kerr, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Bonnie Sudderth Chief Justice.

         In July 2017, pro se Appellant Donald Read sued Appellee Lori Naylor, who was the court reporter during Read's criminal trial five years prior that resulted in his felony driving-while-intoxicated conviction and twenty-five-year sentence. See Read v. State, No. 11-13-00344-CR, 2015 WL 6121536, at *1 (Tex. App.-Eastland Oct. 15, 2015, pet. ref'd) (mem. op., not designated for publication). In his original petition, Read complained that Naylor had transcribed the record for his appeal but had not delivered it to him, depriving him of the exculpatory evidence that he needed to support his habeas corpus petition and actual-innocence claim and thus denying him due process. Read sought a minimum of $200, 000 in damages.

         More than a year later, an attorney with the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office filed an original answer on Naylor's behalf and a motion to dismiss pursuant to civil practice and remedies code chapter 14, [1] arguing that Read's suit had no basis in law or in fact because he had failed to identify a cause of action for which he would be entitled to money damages and because Naylor, as a governmental official sued in her official capacity, was immune from liability and from suit. Read objected, complaining that the district attorney's representation of Naylor was a conflict of interest because he had sent Naylor a check for $18 to purchase some of the record of his criminal trial and when she did not send him anything in return, he reported the incident as theft to the Tarrant County District Attorney.[2]

         Read appeared telephonically at the trial court's hearing on Naylor's motion. At the beginning of the hearing, Read asked the trial court if it had received his objection to Naylor's being represented by the district attorney, and the trial court replied, "I did receive that." The trial court then asked Read if he wanted to make his objection on the record or to note that it was in the file. Read replied, "Yes, and on the record, along with a few other things," but he did not elaborate further or secure any ruling on his objection.

         Read informed the trial court that he had had court-appointed counsel for the appeal of his criminal conviction but claimed that the attorney had worked against him instead of on his behalf. The trial court said, "Then you can call the state bar about the court-appointed attorney. What do you want me to do for you?" Read responded, "Well, I'm wanting the transcript so that I can prove my innocence" and stated that the Eastland Court of Appeals had "actually falsified some government records and included some things that [weren't] even in the trial" and had affirmed his conviction.

         The trial court asked Read whether his attorney had received the record, and Read replied,

Yes, sir. I filed a grievance with the State Bar Association because he refused to get me a copy, and he refused to have any kind of communication with me or anything. He wasn't representing me. He was stealing taxpayer's money from the taxpayers. He didn't do a thing in the world for me. He didn't cite not one constitution. The only statute he cited in his appeal was the Penal Code 49[.]09. He didn't do anything besides take your money. You pay taxes, too, Your Honor.
. . . .
And he took your money. He took our money. He's destroying our judicial system. Our judicial system is based on the administration of justice, not the administration of convicted indigent defendants.
. . . .
. . . I need the transcript so that I can prove in the federal court all of this what I'm telling you here.

         Read also informed the trial court that he had a parallel lawsuit pending in the federal court because he did not "need to mess with Texas courts that are corrupt" and that he had filed suit in federal court "where [he] might find some justice." The trial court concluded that Read had not been able to ...


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