Cox v. Simmons, No. 07-07-0320-CV (Tex. App. 8/24/2007), No. 07-07-0320-CV.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Writing for the CourtPer Curiam
PartiesDAMON COX, Appellant, v. ANGELA SIMMONS, Appellee.
Decision Date24 August 2007
Docket NumberNo. 07-07-0320-CV.

Page 1

DAMON COX, Appellant,
No. 07-07-0320-CV.
Court of Appeals of Texas, Seventh District, Amarillo.
August 24, 2007.

Appeal from the County Court of Gray County, No. 4585, Honorable Richard D. Peet, Judge.

Panel A: Before CAMPBELL and HANCOCK and PIRTLE, JJ.



Appellant, Damon Cox, proceeding pro se, appeals the entry of a Family Violence Protective Order issued pursuant to Chapter 85 of the Texas Family Code on application of Appellee, Angela Simmons.1 Pending before this Court is Cox's "Notice of Extinuating (sic) Circumstances and Case History," wherein he requests the appointment of counsel to "handle any further proceedings in this matter."2

Whether an indigent appellant is entitled to appointed counsel to prosecute an appeal concerning the rendition of a family violence protection order has not yet been decided by the courts of this State. The issue was discussed, however, in Striedel v. Striedel, 15 S.W.3d 163, 167 (Tex.App.-Corpus Christi 2000, no pet.), wherein the appellate court reversed the entry of a protection order on grounds unrelated to the appointment of counsel. In that case the court expressed concern regarding the trial court's failure to consider appointment of counsel for the appellant upon his filing of an affidavit of indigency. The court recommended that in the event of a retrial, the trial court "give additional consideration to appellant's right to appointed counsel." Id.

In arriving at its recommendation, the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals discussed the factors set out in Lassiter v. Department of Soc. Servs. of Durham County,N.C., 452 U.S. 18, 27-33, 101 S.Ct. 2153, 68 L.Ed.2d 640 (1981). In determining when the right to appointed counsel may be invoked in a civil proceeding, the Supreme Court balanced the factors set out in Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 335, 96 S.Ct. 893, 47 L.Ed.2d 18 (1976), against the general presumption that there is a right to appointed counsel only in those situations where the indigent, if unsuccessful, may lose his personal freedom. Lassiter, 452 U.S. at 27. Those factors include: (1) the private interest that will be affected by the official action; (2) the risk of an erroneous deprivation of a private interest through the procedures used, and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards; and (3) the Government's interest, including the function involved and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail.

The Legislature vests a district judge with discretion to appoint counsel to a civil litigant who makes an affidavit that he is too poor to employ counsel. Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 24.016 (Vernon 2004). The Supreme Court has recognized that in some exceptional cases, considering the public and...

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