137 S.W.3d 681 (Tex.App. - San Antonio 2004), 04-03-00949, In re Hearn

Docket Nº:04-03-00949-CV.
Citation:137 S.W.3d 681
Party Name:In re Roy F. HEARN.
Case Date:April 21, 2004
Court:Court of Appeals of Texas
 
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Page 681

137 S.W.3d 681 (Tex.App.—San Antonio 2004)

In re Roy F. HEARN.

No. 04-03-00949-CV.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio.

April 21, 2004.

Rehearing Overruled May 24, 2004.

Page 682

Original Mandamus Proceeding.1

Roy F. Hearn, Navasota, pro se.

Robert B. Maddox, Celamaine Cunniff, Asst. Atty. Gen. Law Enforcement Defense Division, Austin, for appellee.

Sitting: PAUL W. GREEN, Justice, SARAH B. DUNCAN, Justice, PHYLIS J. SPEEDLIN, Justice.

OPINION

PAUL W. GREEN, Justice.

Relator Roy F. Hearn, an inmate in the State penal system, filed a suit for injunction to force the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Correctional Institutions Division (TDCJ) to provide treatment for his skin condition. The trial court ordered that Hearn pay costs of court in increments from his inmate account. In this original proceeding, Hearn brings three issues: (1) the trial court's order to pay costs; (2) the trial court's failure to rule on several pretrial motions; and (3) the trial court's failure to transfer the case back to Galveston County. We conditionally grant relief in part and order the trial court to rule on Hearn's pending motion to recuse. We deny relief regarding the order to pay costs, the merits of the motion to transfer venue, and the trial court's failure to rule on Hearn's remaining pretrial motions.

Facts and Procedural Background

At the time the underlying lawsuit was filed on December 3, 2002, Hearn was incarcerated at the Torres Facility in Medina County. He filed his injunction suit in Galveston County. 2 On February 3, 2003, the Real Parties in Interest answered and filed a motion for transfer of venue to

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Medina County. Hearn filed a response and objection to the motion, but the Galveston County district court granted the motion and signed an order transferring the case to Medina County on February 20, 2003. Hearn did not file a petition for writ of mandamus at that time.

On March 31, 2003, the trial court in Medina County signed an order for Hearn to pay $130 in court costs. The costs are to be deducted in installments from Hearn's inmate trust account on a monthly basis until paid. On April 16, 2003, Hearn filed a motion to recuse the trial court judge. On the same day, the trial court signed a supplemental order for the payment of court costs, which does not raise the amount of fees or change the installments outlined in the first order. Thereafter, Hearn filed the following motions:

(1) May 1, 2003 Motion to Correct Erroneous Filing Fee

(2) May 1, 2003 Objection to Supplemental Order to Assess Costs Against Plaintiff

(3) June 2, 2003 Motion to Transfer Venue

On August 7, 2003, Hearn filed a petition for writ of mandamus in this court seeking to force the trial court to rule on his pending motions. In a Memorandum Opinion, this court denied relief because there was not an adequate record, but also informed Hearn that he needed to bring his motions to the attention of the trial court. See In re Hearn, 04-03-00602-CV, 2003 WL 22024677, at *1 (Tex.App.-San Antonio Aug. 29, 2003, orig. proceeding). Hearn filed the present mandamus proceeding on December 29, 2003.

Discussion

A. The Order to Pay Costs

Mandamus issues only to correct a clear abuse of discretion or a violation of a duty imposed by law when there is no other adequate remedy at law. See Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 839 (Tex.1992). Remedy by appeal is not inadequate merely because it involves more expense or delay than a writ of mandamus. In re Masonite Corp., 997 S.W.2d 194, 199 (Tex.1999). Under the circumstances of this case, Hearn does not lack an adequate remedy by appeal of the order to pay costs.

Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code governs "a suit brought by an inmate in a district, county, justice of the peace, or small claims court in which an affidavit or unsworn declaration of inability to pay is filed by the inmate." TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM.CODE § 14.002 (Vernon 2002). In any instance where chapter 14 conflicts with the Rules of Civil Procedure, chapter 14 takes precedence. See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM.CODE § 14.014.

(a) A court may order an inmate who has filed a claim to pay court fees, court costs, and other costs in accordance with [section 14.006] and Section 14.007. The clerk of the court shall mail a copy of the court's order and a certified bill of costs to the department or jail, as appropriate.

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