Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the 329th District Court of Wharton County,
Justices Benavides, Hinojosa, and Perkes
GREGORY T. PERKES, JUSTICE
a restricted appeal filed by the Office of the Attorney
General of Texas (OAG) from a final order setting aside
various enforcement actions taken by the OAG to collect
alleged unpaid child support from appellee Everett Hughes. By
two issues, the OAG argues: (1) the trial court lacked
subject matter jurisdiction to review an administrative
suspension of Hughes's driver's license; and (2) the
trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enjoin the
OAG from taking future enforcement actions against Hughes. We
affirm in part and vacate and dismiss the case in part.
329th Judicial District Court of Wharton County, Texas
ordered Hughes to pay child support beginning in December
1996 for the benefit of his daughter Chardaa
Hughes. In October 1999, the same trial court
issued an agreed Order Enforcing Child Support Obligation,
which included a cumulative money judgment against
"EVERETT HUGHES and in favor of the ATTORNEY GENERAL in
the amount of $15, 000.00, with interest at the rate of 12%
per annum, for collection and distribution according to the
2015, acting as the state's Title IV-D agency, the OAG
initiated collection efforts against Hughes by sending a
notice of child support lien to his bank, see Tex.
Fam. Code Ann. §§ 157.311-.3145, and issuing
administrative writs of withholding to his
employers.See id. §§ 158.501-.505.
Additionally, the OAG filed a petition with the State Office
of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) that resulted in the
suspension of Hughes's driver's license. See
id. §§ 232.001-.009
filed a motion in the trial court alleging the OAG's
collection efforts violated Texas Family Code §
157.005(b) because the OAG failed to first obtain a
cumulative money judgment against Hughes within ten years of
Chardaa becoming an adult.Hughes set his motion for hearing, and
the OAG failed to appear. The trial court rendered a judgment
in Hughes's favor and ordered the Texas Department of
Public Safety to lift his driver's license suspension,
declared any child support liens void, rescinded the
administrative writs of withholding, and ordered "that
no further wages be withheld in this cause or in OAG #
05556988921." This restricted appeal ensued.
prevail on a restricted appeal, a party must establish that:
(1) it filed a notice of the restricted appeal within six
months after the judgment was signed; (2) it was a party to
the underlying lawsuit; (3) it did not participate in the
hearing that resulted in the judgment complained of and did
not timely file any post-judgment motions or request for
findings of fact and conclusions of law; and (4) error is
apparent on the face of the record. See Tex. R. App.
P. 30; Pike-Grant v. Grant, 447 S.W.3d 884, 886
case, the first and third elements are uncontested. We
previously overruled Hughes's motion to dismiss based on
the second element, concluding the OAG was a party to the
underlying suit. To satisfy the fourth element, the OAG
challenges the trial court's subject matter jurisdiction
on two separate grounds. Subject matter jurisdiction is a
question of law we review de novo. Nazari v. State,
561 S.W.3d 495, 522 (Tex. 2018) (citing Tex. Dep't of
Parks & Wildlife v. Miranda, 133 S.W.3d 217, 226
Driver's license claim
first issue, the OAG argues that the trial court lacked
subject matter jurisdiction to review the SOAH's decision
because Hughes was statutorily required to file his petition
for judicial review in a Travis County district court.
See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 2001.176(b).
Because the modern trend is to protect the finality of
judgments from jurisdictional attacks, the Supreme Court of
Texas requires "clear legislative intent" before
concluding a statutory requirement is jurisdictional.
City of DeSoto v. White, 288 S.W.3d 389, 393 (Tex.
2009) (citing Dubai Petroleum Co. v. Kazi, 12 S.W.3d
71, 75-76 (Tex. 2000)). Therefore, we start with the
presumption that the Legislature did not intend to make
§ 2001.176(b)'s filing requirement jurisdictional
unless clear legislative intent leads us to a contrary
conclusion. See id. at 394. As with any statutory
provision, we look to the plain language to determine
legislative intent. Id. at 395 (citing F.F.P.
Operating Partners, L.P. v. Duenez, 237 S.W.3d 680, 684
(Tex. 2007)). Statutory construction is a question of law we
review de novo. City of Rockwall v. Hughes, 246
S.W.3d 621, 625 (Tex. 2008).
as in this case, the OAG initiates an administrative
proceeding to suspend an obligor's driver's license,
the proceeding is governed by the contested case provisions
under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. § 232.004(d). The SOAH's order suspending
Hughes's driver's license was "a final agency
decision subject to review under the substantial evidence
rule as provided by [the APA]." Id. §
232.010. Under the APA, "[a] person initiates judicial
review in a contested case by filing a petition not later
than the 30th day after the date the decision or order that
is the subject of complaint is final and appealable."
Tex. Gov't ...