Long, In re, No. 97-0373

CourtSupreme Court of Texas
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; BAKER
Citation984 S.W.2d 623
Decision Date07 January 1999
Docket NumberNo. 97-0373
Parties42 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 315 In re Bill LONG, District Clerk, Dallas County, Relator.

Page 623

984 S.W.2d 623
42 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 315
In re Bill LONG, District Clerk, Dallas County, Relator.
No. 97-0373.
Supreme Court of Texas.
Jan. 7, 1999.

Page 624

P. Michael Jung, John Clark Long, IV, Dallas, for relator.

Timothy E. Kelley, Dallas, for respondent.

PER CURIAM.

Relator Long's motion for rehearing is granted. We withdraw our opinion of July 3, 1998 and substitute the following in its place.

In this mandamus proceeding, the Dallas County District Clerk seeks relief from a judgment of contempt for violating an injunction. We hold that, because the Clerk violated the injunction each time he collected the court reporter fee or the sheriff fee, the trial court could assess multiple fines. However, the Clerk could not be held in contempt for violating the injunction until the court of appeals issued its mandate on February 13, 1995. Nor is there any evidence in the record that the Clerk violated the injunction after the September 28, 1995 contempt hearing. Thus, the trial court abused its discretion by assessing fines for violations before February 13, 1995 and by assessing fines for collecting the sheriff fee after September 28, 1995. Accordingly, we conditionally grant Relator's petition for writ of mandamus in part. Because the trial court did not otherwise abuse its discretion, we deny the remaining requests for relief.

H. Averill Sweitzer (now deceased) and Walter Kowalski, plaintiffs in the underlying action and real parties in interest to this proceeding (collectively Sweitzer), sued Dallas County and the Dallas County District Clerk to recover certain filing fees they had paid and to enjoin further collection of those fees. The trial court awarded Sweitzer damages and enjoined the Clerk from collecting certain filing fees, including the court reporter fee and the sheriff fee. All parties appealed. The court of appeals issued an opinion that primarily addressed issues unrelated to this mandamus but that also held that the sheriff fee and the court reporter fee were improperly collected. Dallas County v. Sweitzer, 881 S.W.2d 757 (Tex.App.--Dallas 1994, writ denied). The parties' motions for rehearing were overruled on July 11, 1994. Although the Clerk did not file an application for writ of error with this Court, Sweitzer did. This Court denied Sweitzer's application and overruled the motion for rehearing. Shortly thereafter, on February 13, 1995, the court of appeals issued its mandate, which, among other orders, enjoined the Clerk from collecting a $15.00 court reporter fee and a $30.00 sheriff fee.

Sweitzer thereafter filed a motion for contempt, complaining that the Clerk had failed to honor the injunction as modified by the court of appeals. Sweitzer alleged that the Clerk continued collecting the court reporter fee until April 1, 1995, which was nine months after the motions for rehearing had been overruled by the court of appeals. Sweitzer also alleged that the Clerk stopped collecting the sheriff fee on January 1, 1995, but thereafter began collecting a $30.00 "bailiff fee."

The trial court conducted a contempt hearing and found the Clerk guilty of continually collecting a court reporter fee from the time the Clerk's motion for rehearing was overruled by the court of appeals on July 11, 1994 until the Clerk ceased collecting the fee on April 1, 1995. The trial court also found that collection of the bailiff fee was a sham and a subterfuge and that the Clerk violated the injunction by continuing to collect the sheriff fee from and after July 11, 1994 by substituting the bailiff fee in place of the sheriff fee. (For ease of reference, we will collectively refer to the sheriff and bailiff fees as the sheriff fee.)

Based on these findings, the trial court fined the Clerk as follows: (1) $500 per day for charging the court reporter fee from July 11, 1994 to April 1, 1995, which totaled $131,500; and (2) $500 per day for charging the

Page 625

sheriff fee from July 11, 1994 to March 15, 1996, which totaled $220,000. After unsuccessfully seeking mandamus from the court of appeals, the Clerk filed this petition for mandamus.

Mandamus will issue only if a court has clearly abused its discretion and the aggrieved party has no adequate remedy by appeal. Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 839-40 (Tex.1992). Contempt orders that do not involve confinement cannot be reviewed by writ of habeas corpus, and the only possible relief is a writ of mandamus. See Rosser v. Squier, 902 S.W.2d 962, 962 (Tex.1995).

We must first decide whether the trial court impermissibly carved a single contemptuous act into separate offenses. Section 21.002 of the Texas Government Code governs a district court's ability to punish for contempt. Each contemptuous act subjects the contemner to a fine of up to $500, to confinement for up to six months, or to both. TEX. GOV'T CODE § 21.002(b). But in assessing a penalty, a court cannot divide one contemptuous act into separate acts and assess punishment for each allegedly separate act. See Ex parte Hudson, 917 S.W.2d 24, 26...

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  • Luttrell v. El Paso Cnty., No. 08-16-00090-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • December 20, 2017
    ...only to a fine.16 See Cadle Co. v. Lobingier, 50 S.W.3d 662, 671 (Tex.Page 18 App.--Fort Worth 2001, pet. denied) (citing In re Long, 984 S.W.2d 623, 625 (Tex. 1999) (orig. proceeding); see also Ex parte Dustman, 538 S.W.2d 409, 410 (Tex. 1976) (an original habeas corpus proceeding in this ......
  • Luttrell v. El Paso Cnty., No. 08-16-00090-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • July 26, 2018
    ...to a fine.16 555 S.W.3d 831See Cadle Co. v. Lobingier , 50 S.W.3d 662, 671 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2001, pet. denied) (citing In re Long , 984 S.W.2d 623, 625 (Tex. 1999) (orig. proceeding); see also Ex parte Dustman , 538 S.W.2d 409, 410 (Tex. 1976) (an original habeas corpus proceeding in t......
  • Neeley v. West Orange-Cove, No. 04-1144.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • December 16, 2005
    ...et al., No. GV-100528 (250th Dist. Ct., Travis County, Tex., Nov. 30, 2004). 18. Id. 19. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 6.001; In re Long, 984 S.W.2d 623, 625 (Tex.1999) (per curiam) ("As a county official sued in his or her official capacity, a district clerk's notice of appeal operates as ......
  • Dallas County Community College v. Bolton, No. 02-1110.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • December 2, 2005
    ...(Tex.1998) (reversing dismissal based on lack of jurisdiction and remanding for further proceedings);5 • a $31 filing fee in In re Long, 984 S.W.2d 623, 626 (Tex.1999) (affirming modified contempt order for continued collection of unauthorized fees);6 Page 886 • an $18 bail-bond filing fee ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
172 cases
  • Luttrell v. El Paso Cnty., No. 08-16-00090-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • December 20, 2017
    ...only to a fine.16 See Cadle Co. v. Lobingier, 50 S.W.3d 662, 671 (Tex.Page 18 App.--Fort Worth 2001, pet. denied) (citing In re Long, 984 S.W.2d 623, 625 (Tex. 1999) (orig. proceeding); see also Ex parte Dustman, 538 S.W.2d 409, 410 (Tex. 1976) (an original habeas corpus proceeding in this ......
  • Luttrell v. El Paso Cnty., No. 08-16-00090-CV
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas
    • July 26, 2018
    ...to a fine.16 555 S.W.3d 831See Cadle Co. v. Lobingier , 50 S.W.3d 662, 671 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2001, pet. denied) (citing In re Long , 984 S.W.2d 623, 625 (Tex. 1999) (orig. proceeding); see also Ex parte Dustman , 538 S.W.2d 409, 410 (Tex. 1976) (an original habeas corpus proceeding in t......
  • Neeley v. West Orange-Cove, No. 04-1144.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • December 16, 2005
    ...et al., No. GV-100528 (250th Dist. Ct., Travis County, Tex., Nov. 30, 2004). 18. Id. 19. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE § 6.001; In re Long, 984 S.W.2d 623, 625 (Tex.1999) (per curiam) ("As a county official sued in his or her official capacity, a district clerk's notice of appeal operates as ......
  • Dallas County Community College v. Bolton, No. 02-1110.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • December 2, 2005
    ...(Tex.1998) (reversing dismissal based on lack of jurisdiction and remanding for further proceedings);5 • a $31 filing fee in In re Long, 984 S.W.2d 623, 626 (Tex.1999) (affirming modified contempt order for continued collection of unauthorized fees);6 Page 886 • an $18 bail-bond filing fee ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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