Ex parte Helms, No. A-4100

CourtSupreme Court of Texas
Writing for the CourtCALVERT
PartiesEx parte HELMS.
Decision Date17 June 1953
Docket NumberNo. A-4100

Page 184

259 S.W.2d 184
152 Tex. 480
Ex parte HELMS.
No. A-4100.
Supreme Court of Texas.
June 17, 1953.
Rehearing Denied July 22, 1953.

[152 Tex. 481]

Page 185

Archer & Hazlewood and E. T. Miller, Amarillo, for relator.

Lee Minner, Co. Atty. of Oldham County, Vega, for intervenor-respondent, Ida Mae Walthall.

CALVERT, Justice.

Upon a hearing on a show cause order before the District Court of the 69th Judicial District, Moore County, relator, Joseph Boyd Helms, was adjuged guilty of contempt for failing to comply with a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles, California, requiring relator to make monthly payments for the support of his two children, both of whom were under sixteen years of age. We ordered relator released from jail on bond of $500 pending a final determination of the questions presented by his application to this court for a writ of habeas corpus.

The contempt judgment imposed a fine of $50 and ordered that relator be confined in the county jail until the fine and all costs were paid, allowed a fee of $500, taxed as costs, to the attorney representing relator's former wife who filed the contempt proceeding, and further directed that relator be confined [152 Tex. 482] in jail until he purged himself of the contempt by paying into the registry of the court the sum of $5850, found to be the total of unpaid support installments.

Relator contends that the judgment committing him is void for the following reasons: (1) There was no evidence before

Page 186

the court that relator was able to make the support payments, all the evidence showing on the contrary an inability to do so. (2) There was no evidence before the court that relator was able to pay the arrearages totalling $5850, all the evidence showing on the contrary an inability to do so. (3) The evidence showed that relator was not served with a copy of the support order and had no actual knowledge of the terms thereof. (4) The statute authorizing the contempt judgment did so only if a similar statute authorizing reciprocal remedies existed in California and there was no proof that California had such a statute. (5) The court had no authority to allow the attorney's fee and even if it did that part of the order that required that he remain in jail until the same was paid amounted to an imprisonment for debt in violation of the constitution.

We shall treat the first three contentions together because each of them involves the right of this court to examine the evidence adduced before the trial judge.

Undoubtedly involuntary inability to perform a judgment or comply with a court's order is a good defense in a contempt proceeding, and when the record shows inability to perform our courts will order a defendant released. Ex parte Steinhauser, 133 Tex.Cr.R. 166, 109 S.W.2d 485; Allen v. Woodward, 111 Tex. 457, 239 S.W. 602, 22 A.L.R. 1253; Ex parte Mabry, 122 Tex. 54, 52 S.W.2d 73; Ex parte De Wees, 146 Tex. 564, 210 S.W.2d 145. On the other hand, it is well established that a proceeding of this nature is a collateral attack on the contempt judgment and this court may order the contemner released only where the judgment is void because of lack of jurisdiction in the court to render it, or because the contemner was deprived of his liberty without due process of law which in itself involves a want of jurisdiction. This court has no jurisdiction in an original habeas corpus proceeding to weigh the evidence adduced in the contempt proceeding for the purpose of determining whether it preponderates against the judgment. Ex parte Lipscomb, 111 Tex. 409, 239 S.W. 1101; Ex parte Olson, 111 Tex. 601, 243 S.W. 773; Ex parte Westbrook, 126 Tex. 1, 84 S.W.2d 700; Ex parte Genecov, 143 Tex. 476, 186 S.W.2d 225, 160 A.L.R. [152 Tex. 483] 1099, certiorari denied, Genecov v. United States, 326 U.S. 733, 66 S.Ct. 41, 90 L.Ed. 436, rehearing denied, 326 U.S. 808, 66 S.Ct. 137, 90 L.Ed. 493; Ex parte Nix, 149 Tex. 267, 231 S.W.2d 411, certiorari denied 340 U.S. 840, 71 S.Ct. 28, 95 L.Ed. 616. Of course this court has jurisdiction to and will intervene by writ of habeas corpus to protect one who has been committed to jail for a constructive contempt without a hearing and without evidence being taken as a basis for the judgment for such a judgment is a denial of the constitutional right of due process. Ex parte Renfro, 115 Tex. 82, 273 S.W. 813, 40 A.L.R. 900; Ex parte Ratliff, 117 Tex. 325, 3 S.W.2d 406, 57 A.L.R. 541; Ex parte Pyle, 134 Tex. 148, 133 S.W.2d 565; Ex parte Holden, 144 Tex. 295, 190 S.W.2d 485; Ex parte Henry, 147 Tex. 315, 215 S.W.2d 588; Ex parte Morris, 147 Tex. 140, 215 S.W.2d 598. But this is not such a...

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100 practice notes
  • McElreath v. McElreath, No. A-7761
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • February 1, 1961
    ...of her demands by ordering the respondent to execute a conveyance to her is not dependent upon the provisions of the Act. Ex parte Helms, 152 Tex. 480, 259 S.W.2d 184. Nor is such action prohibited thereby. It does not follow that because the State of Texas will not enforce the payment of a......
  • Ex parte Tucci, Nos. D-2809
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 30, 1993
    ...in the court to render it, or because the contemner was deprived of his liberty without due process of law". Ex parte Helms, 152 Tex. 480, 259 S.W.2d 184, 186 Although various standards have been used to judge the enforceability of the order relator violated, the cases consistently rec......
  • Tucker v. Thomas, No. 14–09–01081–CV.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • January 18, 2012
    ...traditional debts within the meaning of Article I, Section 18. See Ex parte Hall, 854 S.W.2d 656, 658 (Tex.1993); Ex parte Helms, 152 Tex. 480, 259 S.W.2d 184, 188 (1953). To the contrary, judgments taxed as child support are specifically enforceable by contempt and any other means availabl......
  • Catlett v. Catlett, No. 40887
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • March 22, 1966
    ...inability to pay' is a good defense in a civil contempt action. Ex Parte Steinhauser, 133 Tex.Cr.R. 166, 109 S.W.2d 485; Ex Parte Helms, 152 Tex. 480, 259 S.W.2d 184; Ex Parte Kollenborn, 154 Tex. 223, 276 S.W.2d 251. In the last cited case, for example, the former husband, who was in arrea......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
100 cases
  • McElreath v. McElreath, No. A-7761
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • February 1, 1961
    ...of her demands by ordering the respondent to execute a conveyance to her is not dependent upon the provisions of the Act. Ex parte Helms, 152 Tex. 480, 259 S.W.2d 184. Nor is such action prohibited thereby. It does not follow that because the State of Texas will not enforce the payment of a......
  • Ex parte Tucci, Nos. D-2809
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • June 30, 1993
    ...jurisdiction in the court to render it, or because the contemner was deprived of his liberty without due process of law". Ex parte Helms, 152 Tex. 480, 259 S.W.2d 184, 186 Although various standards have been used to judge the enforceability of the order relator violated, the cases consiste......
  • Tucker v. Thomas, No. 14–09–01081–CV.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • January 18, 2012
    ...traditional debts within the meaning of Article I, Section 18. See Ex parte Hall, 854 S.W.2d 656, 658 (Tex.1993); Ex parte Helms, 152 Tex. 480, 259 S.W.2d 184, 188 (1953). To the contrary, judgments taxed as child support are specifically enforceable by contempt and any other means availabl......
  • Catlett v. Catlett, No. 40887
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • March 22, 1966
    ...inability to pay' is a good defense in a civil contempt action. Ex Parte Steinhauser, 133 Tex.Cr.R. 166, 109 S.W.2d 485; Ex Parte Helms, 152 Tex. 480, 259 S.W.2d 184; Ex Parte Kollenborn, 154 Tex. 223, 276 S.W.2d 251. In the last cited case, for example, the former husband, who was in arrea......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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