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In re Amir-Sharif

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

December 12, 2019

IN RE LAKEITH RAQIB AMIR-SHARIF

          On Petition for Writ of Mandamus.

          Before Justices Benavides, Longoria, and Perkes

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GREGORY T. PERKES, JUSTICE [1]

         Relator Lakeith Raqib Amir-Sharif, proceeding pro se, filed a petition for writ of mandamus in the above cause on November 8, 2019. Through this original proceeding, relator seeks to compel the trial court to comply with the recusal procedures provided by Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 18a. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 18a(f).[2] We conditionally grant the petition for writ of mandamus.

         I. Background

         According to the petition for writ of mandamus, relator filed the underlying lawsuit as a Texas prisoner "seeking the return of and/or adequate monetary compensation for various authorized personal property items that were improperly confiscated in July 2015 by the named defendants in the lawsuit." Relator states that he filed a motion to recuse the respondent on June 6, 2019. According to the record provided, the District Clerk of Bee County received and filed the motion to recuse and forwarded a copy to the respondent on July 22, 2019. Relator asserts that the trial court has failed to act on his motion to recuse. He argues that the respondent has a mandatory and non-discretionary duty to comply with Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 18a(f)(1). See id.

         This Court requested that the real parties in interest, Warren Kenneth Paxton Jr. on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Texas, Law Enforcement Defense Division (OAG) and Sharon Howell as General Counsel for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, or any others whose interest would be directly affected by the relief sought, file a response to the petition for writ of mandamus. See Tex. R. App. P. 52.2, 52.4, 52.8. The OAG filed a response to the petition confirming that relator filed a motion to recuse the respondent on June 6, 2019. The OAG further states, in relevant part:

Relator seeks mandamus relief requiring the . . . judge to comply with the entirety of Rule 18(a), which in part requires the judge to either voluntarily recuse herself from the case or to refer the motion to the regional presiding judge, in this case the Hon. Sid Harle of the 4th Administrative Judicial Region. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 18(a)(f).
After contacting the Bee County District Clerk's Office and the Clerk's Office for the 4th Administrative Judicial Region, undersigned counsel is not aware of any filings made by the District Court relating to the Relator's Motion for Recusal, other than the July 22, 2019 letter filed by the Clerk's Office informing Relator that the motion to recuse was forwarded to the Hon. Judge Bauer.

         The Texas Department of Criminal Justice did not file a response to relator's petition for writ of mandamus. See id. R. 52.4.

         II. Standard for Mandamus Relief

         Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy issued at the discretion of the court. In re Garza, 544 S.W.3d 836, 840 (Tex. 2018) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam). To obtain relief by writ of mandamus, a relator must establish that an underlying order is void or is a clear abuse of discretion and there is no adequate appellate remedy. In re Nationwide Ins. Co. of Am., 494 S.W.3d 708, 712 (Tex. 2016) (orig. proceeding); see In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 148 S.W.3d 124, 135-36 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding); Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 839-40 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding).

         An abuse of discretion occurs when a trial court's ruling is arbitrary and unreasonable or is made without regard for guiding legal principles or supporting evidence. In re Nationwide Ins. Co. of Am., 494 S.W.3d at 712; Ford Motor Co. v. Garcia, 363 S.W.3d 573, 578 (Tex. 2012). We determine the adequacy of an appellate remedy by balancing the benefits of mandamus review against the detriments. In re Essex Ins. Co., 450 S.W.3d 524, 528 (Tex. 2014) (orig. proceeding); In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 148 S.W.3d at 136. In deciding whether the benefits of mandamus outweigh the detriments, we weigh the public and private interests involved, and we look to the facts in each case to determine the adequacy of an appeal. In re United Servs. Auto. Ass'n, 307 S.W.3d 299, 313 (Tex. 2010) (orig. proceeding); In re McAllen Med. Ctr., Inc., 275 S.W.3d 458, 469 (Tex. 2008) (orig. proceeding); In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 148 S.W.3d at 136-37.

         III. ...


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