Appeal from the 245th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2017-41808
consists of Justices Kelly, Hightower, and Countiss.
Xochytl Diane Greer, has filed a notice of appeal of the
trial court's second reformed order adjudicating
parentage in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship.
And Greer has filed a motion for review of the trial
court's order sustaining court reporter Barbara K.
Nagji's motion challenging Greer's Statement of
Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs or an Appeal Bond
(the "Statement").In her sole issue, Greer contends
that the trial court erred in sustaining Nagji's motion.
grant Greer's motion for review and reverse.
filed suit to establish the parent-child relationship between
her minor child, I.G.M., and appellee, Wesley Michael
Melcher, and to provide for conservatorship, visitation, and
support. After a three-day hearing, the trial court signed an
order adjudicating parentage in a suit affecting the
parent-child relationship and later signed a second reformed
order adjudicating parentage. Greer filed a notice of appeal.
also filed her sworn Statement asserting that she could not
"afford to pay court costs." In her Statement,
she listed her two children, I.G.M. and K.G., and a nephew,
B.S., as "[t]he people who depend[ed] on [her]
financially." She stated that her "monthly
income" was $8,258, which included "monthly
wages" of $4,408 that she received from her work as an
attorney and $3,850 in child support payments; she did not
receive any income from "[t]ips" or
"bonuses"; and her property was valued at
"-$3,000," which included a sport utility vehicle
("SUV") valued at "-$5[,]000" and a
"[r]esidental [h]ome" valued at
$2,000. The value of any cash, bank accounts, or
"other financial assets" was listed as
"$0." The Statement also showed that Greer's
total monthly expenses were $8,390, which included
"[d]ebt payments" of $1,224 for "[c]redit card
[debt]," and $701 for "[s]tudent [l]oan
[debt]." Greer further stated that her debts included
"[s]tudent loan [debt], car [debt], [and] credit
card [debt] which [had] mostly accumulated due to th[e]
case being in litigation in excess of two years and [Greer]
having to put attorney's fees on credit cards."
reporter Nagji filed a motion to require Greer to pay costs,
asserting, in part, that "the testimony and evidence
presented during the trial in th[e] case would show that . .
. Greer [was] not indigent." The trial court then held a
hearing on Nagji's motion at which Greer was the only
witness to testify and during which no exhibits were
hearing on Nagji's motion, Greer testified that she
"believe[d] [her Statement] to be accurate at the time
[that she] filed it," but she also "believe[d]
[that she had] rushed it so there [were] some missing
elements to it." As to the "missing elements,"
she explained that she owned "a second [car] . . . a
Chevy truck," with a current value of "[p]robably
$15,000" and "an outstanding debt on it equal to
the [truck's] value," and that she had
"fail[ed] to include [on the Statement] a $300 car
payment" for the Chevy truck. The monthly car payment in
the amount of $912, which she had included as an expense on
the Statement, was her monthly payment for the SUV that she
drove and had purchased in December 2017. When asked if she
had "considered purchasing a less expensive [car] to
reduce [her] . . . note" for her SUV, Greer answered,
"Well, considering I am upside down on it now, no."
According to Greer, having both her SUV and the Chevy truck
was "necessary" because B.S., who was a high school
student, lived in her home. Although she did not receive any
"support for [his] care," because he would "be
going to . . . Boston University," the expenses included
on her Statement "could potentially" be reduced
"in the future but not by much."
further testified that the Harris County Appraisal District
"represented . . . the fair market value" of her
home as "around $200,000" and the $2,000 amount
that she had included in the Statement represented the
"equity of [her] home." Further, the amount of
"$4,400 per month that [she] receive[d] as an
attorney" was her "net wages"; her "gross
amount of [monthly] wages" was $7,000; and the "net
wages" amount that she listed on her Statement did not
include "any bonuses or other compensation [she] [c]ould
[have] receive[d] from [her] employment." Greer
explained that, although she "[m]aybe sometimes"
received an end-of-year bonus from her employer, a bonus was
not guaranteed, and she had not included any bonus amount on
her Statement. Greer testified that she also received a tax
refund of more than $3,000 in mid-February 2019 and did not
dispute that she had received a tax refund "in excess of
$7,000" related to her "2016 [tax] return" and
a tax refund "in excess of $9,000" related to her
"2017 [tax] return."
Greer's Statement shows, and she testified at the
hearing, that she receives child support payments of $3,850
each month, of which $3,300 was paid by Melcher and $550 was
paid by K.G.'s father, Tanner Smith. Greer explained that
the court order regarding child support payments for K.G.
provided that Smith was required to pay "zero" and
he made child support payments "voluntarily without a
court order." A previous order, which had obligated
Smith to make child support payments, had been modified in
2009 through the Attorney General's office. At that time,
Greer and Smith represented to the Attorney General that they
were "reconciling" and "request[ed] [that] the
child support order be reduced to zero." However, Greer
had testified in a deposition in the instant case that her
"representation to the Attorney General was not
true." Greer further testified that she "did not
identify" in her Statement that she "receive[d]
cash medical support" from Smith and Melcher and that
each was obligated to reimburse her for fifty percent of any
uninsured medical costs. However, Greer noted that she did
not take any reimbursements "in[to] account in the
numbers [that she had] reflected as [her] expenses for
medical and dental" because she currently was not
"receiving [fifty] percent" from Smith and Melcher.
The amount she included on her Statement represented
"100 percent of [her] medical expenses."
also testified that she had "attempted to take out
loans," had "attempted to get credit cards,"
but had been "denied for everything," the limits on
her credit cards were "all maxed out," she had
borrowed $10,000 from her mother in 2018; and she had taken
out two loans from her 401(k) plan "to help through
litigation." Greer testified that her 401(k) plan
contributions were "voluntary" and she contributed
approximately $355 per month, which is the amount that her
employer "matches." Finally, Greer noted that she
had had "some plastic surgery" for which she
"did not spend any money out of pocket" and for
which no one had loaned her money. And any "reports . .
. representing [that her plastic surgery] was simply
discounted for [her]," were "inaccurate."
on her own behalf, Greer testified in narrative form that her
"expenses [were] greater that her income" and
"looking at" the Statement and "[even] with
failing to include a $300 car payment for [the Chevy
truck]," her expenses "greatly outweigh[ed]"
her income and she did not "have the ability to afford
the hearing, the trial court signed an order, sustaining
court reporter Nagji's challenge to Greer's Statement
and finding, in part, that Greer:
• "indicated that her [Statement] was not accurate
as it was prepared in a rush, and she omitted [the Chevy
truck] she owns and additional resources ...