Court of Appeals of Texas, Sixth District, Texarkana
IN RE ESTATE OF ELYWN O. DOGGETT, DECEASED
Submitted: August 19, 2019
Appeal from the County Court at Law Cherokee County, Texas
Trial Court No. P10698
Morriss, C.J., Burgess and Stevens, JJ.
R. MORRISS, III CHIEF JUSTICE
Doggett appeals an order resulting from contempt proceedings.
We dismiss this appeal for want of jurisdiction.
O. Doggett and his wife, Mary Leone Langdon Doggett, had two
children, Marilyn Doggett Stasila and Jerry Doggett. After
Elywn's and Mary's deaths, Marilyn filed an
application to probate Elywn's will and was approved as
independent executrix. After Jerry's death, his son and
independent executor, John Doggett, sued Elywn's estate
in a declaratory judgment action to "determine the
extent of the gift" to Marilyn of a valuable,
227.811-acre tract of land in Cherokee County adjoining Lake
Palestine (Property). After a mediation, the trial court entered
a final judgment in 2016 that recited Marilyn and John
"had resolved their differences and ha[d] agreed to the
distribution of [P]roperty."
2018, after a disagreement with John about the proper
allocation line between the parties' respective tracts,
Marilyn filed a motion for enforcement of the trial
court's order by contempt and, in the alternative, a
finding that John breached a Rule 11 agreement in open court
because he had allegedly agreed to her proposed allocation
line in 2016. Marilyn requested either that John be held in
contempt or found in breach of a Rule 11 agreement, or that
the trial court clarify its judgment if it found that it was
not specific enough to be enforced by contempt. The same
judge that had entered the 2016 final judgment presided over
a hearing on Marilyn's motion for contempt regarding it.
After an evidentiary hearing on the motion, the trial court
declined to enforce its prior judgment by contempt, but
instead entered an order finding that the allocation line had
already been determined in the 2016 judgment, based on the
parties' prior agreement and a survey specifying the
argues that the trial court's order is void and barred by
res judicata. Alternatively, John argues that the trial
court's order is not supported by legally sufficient
evidence. As a threshold matter, we must decide whether we
have jurisdiction over this appeal.
general rule, with a few mostly statutory exceptions, is that
an appeal may be taken only from a final judgment."
Lehmann v. Har-Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 195 (Tex.
2001). "A judgment is final for purposes of appeal if it
disposes of all pending parties and claims in the
record." Id. It is undisputed in this case that
the issue involving the lake allocation line was raised
before the entry of the 2016 judgment. Finding that the
parties had "resolved their differences" and had
agreed to the Property's distribution, the 2016 judgment
stated, "[T]he above-entitled and numbered cause, all
claims, and causes of action . . . is hereby in all things
dismissed with prejudice."
Texas law has long recognized that probate proceedings may
involve multiple judgments "on certain discreet
issues," each of which may be "final for purposes
of appeal," De Ayala v. Mackie, 193 S.W.3d 575,
578 (Tex. 2006), the order appealed from in this case did not
fall within the probate exception to the one final judgment
rule because the order was related to contempt proceedings.
court has all powers necessary for the exercise of its
jurisdiction and the enforcement of its lawful orders."
Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 21.001. Contempt proceedings
"are not concerned with disposing of all claims and
parties before the court, as are judgments; instead, contempt
proceedings involve a court's enforcement of its own
orders, regardless of the status of the claims between the
parties before it." Hooper v. Hooper, No.
14-09-01024-CV, 2011 WL 334198, at *1 (Tex. App.-Houston
[14th Dist.] Feb. 3, 2011, no pet.) (mem. op.) (quoting
In re Office of Attorney Gen. of Tex., 215 S.W.3d
913, 915-16 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2007, orig. proceeding)).
Thus, whether the contempt motion is granted or denied,
"[i]t has long been the law in the State of Texas that
decisions in contempt proceedings are not reviewable on
direct appeal." In re J.E.B., No.
06-18-00084-CV, 2018 WL 6332252, at *1 (Tex. App.-Texarkana
Dec. 5, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.) (citing Hooper,
2011 WL 334198, at *1; Office of Attorney Gen. of
Tex., 215 S.W.3d at 915-16); see Norman v.
Norman, 692 S.W.2d 655, 655 (Tex. 1985)); Runnels v.
Neal, No. 12-18-00146-CV, 2018 WL 3569682, at *1 (Tex.
App.-Tyler July 25, 2018, no pet.) (mem. op.).
is a line of cases that allow a direct appeal from rulings
made during a contempt proceeding when the rulings
involve issues wholly unrelated to the issue of contempt,
assuming such issues are otherwise appealable."
J.E.B., 2018 WL 6332252, at *1; but see In re
M.E.G., 48 S.W.3d 204, 209 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi
2000, no pet.) ("Courts of appeals generally do not have
jurisdiction to review contempt orders by way of direct
appeal. This is true even where the contempt order is
appealed along with a judgment that is appealable.").
However, the findings in the trial court's order were
entirely related to the contempt proceeding.
only possible relief from non-confinement contempt orders is
a writ of mandamus. In re Long, 984 S.W.2d 623, 625
(Tex. 1999); see In re B.J.H.-T., No.
12-11-00383-CV, 2013 WL 1687586, at *1 (Tex. App.-Tyler Apr.
17, 2013, no pet.) (mem. op.). Therefore, we lack
jurisdiction to hear ...