In early February, 2012, we received a call from a prospective client in a small town an hour or so away from Houston. The client called on a Friday afternoon regarding a case set for trial the following Wednesday morning. The client had been represented by a local lawyer in that town until September 2011 when the lawyer dropped out of the case because he was being pressured by other local lawyers in the town.
It was clear from the call that the client was in a bad situation because in a hearing a week earlier, the Judge of the case had made some very prejudicial statements against this client. It also became clear that the Client’s case was being handled in a Court that did not even have proper jurisdiction to hear the case. Following the call, the F+B litigation team jumped into action to begin preparing for the trial just a few days away. At the outset of the trial, we objected to the Court’s jurisdiction and moved to have the case transferred to a proper court.
In an astounding admission, the Judge of the case looked at the opposing counsel and said something to this effect, “the Court of Appeals has ruled in a prior case that I do not have jurisdiction in these types of cases, so I have no choice but to transfer the case to another court. I do not want to intentionally get overruled by the Court of Appeals.” With that, the Judge transferred the case to a proper court.
With his statement, the Judge acknowledged that he knew that he did not have jurisdiction over the case, but he had intended to proceed forward with the case anyway because our client, when representing herself, did not know any different. By hiring F+B, this client now has a fighting chance to win her case in a Court that has the proper jurisdiction to actually grant her some relief.
As we have pointed out in the past, many of the small town Courts that hear probate and guardianship litigation cases either do not have the expertise to handle them, or they flatly ignore the provisions of the law related to these cases. The attorneys at Ford + Bergner LLP research these cases in depth to ensure that we are able to hold these Courts to making the right decisions. Should you find yourself involved in a contested estate, trust, or guardianship matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.