Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, Beaumont
Submitted on October 25, 2019
Original Proceeding County Court at Law No. 3 of Montgomery
County, Texas Trial Cause No. 14-05-05366-CV
Kreger, Horton, and Johnson, JJ.
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. For the reasons
stated herein, we deny the petition.
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 ...