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In re Jaros

Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, Beaumont

November 21, 2019

IN RE JOSHUA LEROY JAROS

          Submitted on October 25, 2019

          Original Proceeding County Court at Law No. 3 of Montgomery County, Texas Trial Cause No. 14-05-05366-CV

          Before Kreger, Horton, and Johnson, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PER CURIAM

         Joshua Leroy Jaros filed an original petition for habeas corpus with this Court, alleging that he is illegally confined for punitive contempt pursuant to a child support enforcement order of the County Court at Law No. 3 of Montgomery County, Texas, in trial cause number 14-05-05366-CV.[1] For the reasons stated herein, we deny the petition.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 1, 2019, the trial court held a status conference after a pending enforcement action was remanded to the State trial court from federal court. During that status conference, the trial court stated on the record that the trial judge was familiar with the underlying history of the case, the trial judge had also presided over the divorce and custody case in 2014, the trial judge was the judge that signed the divorce decree in 2015, and presided over several enforcement actions, that the Office of the Attorney General had filed a motion to enforce support and that motion was the only pending issue in the case. The trial judge instructed Mr. Jaros as follows:

THE COURT: . . . The OAG has filed a motion to enforce child support. It is the second motion to enforce child support. It is the only thing that is pending in this action. It's a very straightforward motion. It's very clearly worded.
It asserts that there is a prior order ordering child support. It asserts that you violated the order. It specifies exactly what you are supposed to do on what dates and the allegations of whether or not you violated that order on those dates and in those amounts. It's very simple. It's very straightforward. It has been pending now for more than a year, and so you've had adequate time to figure out what your rights are and have representation. The Court will appoint a lawyer for you if you are indigent and ask me to appoint a lawyer.
. . . .
THE COURT: Okay. So, Mr. Jaros, I order that you return to court, this court, this place, on August 30, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. for a hearing on the pending enforcement action.
Now, you are entitled to be informed of certain rights. At that hearing, you have a right to remain silent. You do not have to testify in that case should you desire not to, and that's because the [OAG] is seeking an order of contempt and an order of confinement in the county jail; and therefore this is a quasi[-]criminal proceeding. Therefore, you do not have to testify in this case. You do not have the burden of proof. The burden of proof is solely on the Attorney General's Office. You have a right to counsel. Do you wish to be appointed counsel?
MR. JAROS: I do not. I would ask . . . what will be the burden of proof?
THE COURT: Okay. So you should seek your counsel. If you want to represent yourself, represent yourself. If you want your questions answered, then retain counsel. You will ...

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