Law:Title 2. Trial, Judgment, And Appeal. Subtitle A. General Provisions from Chapter 14. Inmate Litigation (Texas)

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Subtitle A. General Provisions

Contents

Chapter 14. Inmate Litigation

Section  14.001.  Definitions.

In this chapter:

(1)  "Claim" means a cause of action governed by this chapter.

(2)  "Department" means the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

(3)  "Inmate" means a person housed in a secure correctional facility.

(4)  "Secure correctional facility" has the meaning assigned by Section 1.07, Penal Code.

(5)  "Trust account" means an inmate's trust account administered by the department under Section 501.014, Government Code, by a facility under contract with the department, or by a jail.

(6)  "Unsworn declaration" means a document executed in accordance with Chapter 132.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.002.  Scope Of Chapter.

(a) This chapter applies only to 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 costs is filed by the inmate.

(b)  This chapter does not apply to an action brought under the Family Code.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.003.  Dismissal Of Claim.

(a) A court may dismiss a claim, either before or after service of process, if the court finds that:

(1)  the allegation of poverty in the affidavit or unsworn declaration is false;

(2)  the claim is frivolous or malicious; or

(3)  the inmate filed an affidavit or unsworn declaration required by this chapter that the inmate knew was false.

(b)  In determining whether a claim is frivolous or malicious, the court may consider whether:

(1)  the claim's realistic chance of ultimate success is slight;

(2)  the claim has no arguable basis in law or in fact;

(3)  it is clear that the party cannot prove facts in support of the claim; or

(4)  the claim is substantially similar to a previous claim filed by the inmate because the claim arises from the same operative facts.

(c)  In determining whether Subsection (a) applies, the court may hold a hearing. The hearing may be held before or after service of process, and it may be held on motion of the court, a party, or the clerk of the court.

(d)  On the filing of a motion under Subsection (c), the court shall suspend discovery relating to the claim pending the hearing.

(e)  A court that dismisses a claim brought by a person housed in a facility operated by or under contract with the department may notify the department of the dismissal and, on the court's own motion or the motion of any party or the clerk of the court, may advise the department that a mental health evaluation of the inmate may be appropriate.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.004.  Affidavit Relating To Previous Filings.

(a) An inmate who files an affidavit or unsworn declaration of inability to pay costs shall file a separate affidavit or declaration:

(1)  identifying each suit, other than a suit under the Family Code, previously brought by the person and in which the person was not represented by an attorney, without regard to whether the person was an inmate at the time the suit was brought; and

(2)  describing each suit that was previously brought by:

(A)  stating the operative facts for which relief was sought;

(B)  listing the case name, cause number, and the court in which the suit was brought;

(C)  identifying each party named in the suit; and

(D)  stating the result of the suit, including whether the suit was dismissed as frivolous or malicious under Section 13.001 or Section 14.003 or otherwise.

(b)  If the affidavit or unsworn declaration filed under this section states that a previous suit was dismissed as frivolous or malicious, the affidavit or unsworn declaration must state the date of the final order affirming the dismissal.

(c)  The affidavit or unsworn declaration must be accompanied by the certified copy of the trust account statement required by Section 14.006(f).

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.005.  Grievance System Decision; Exhaustion Of Administrative Remedies.

(a) An inmate who files a claim that is subject to the grievance system established under Section 501.008, Government Code, shall file with the court:

(1)  an affidavit or unsworn declaration stating the date that the grievance was filed and the date the written decision described by Section 501.008(d), Government Code, was received by the inmate; and

(2)  a copy of the written decision from the grievance system.

(b)  A court shall dismiss a claim if the inmate fails to file the claim before the 31st day after the date the inmate receives the written decision from the grievance system.

(c)  If a claim is filed before the grievance system procedure is complete, the court shall stay the proceeding with respect to the claim for a period not to exceed 180 days to permit completion of the grievance system procedure.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.006.  Court Fees, Court Costs, Other Costs. (a)

A court may order an inmate who has filed a claim to pay court fees, court costs, and other costs in accordance with this section 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.

(b)  On the court's order, the inmate shall pay an amount equal to the lesser of:

(1)  20 percent of the preceding six months' deposits to the inmate's trust account; or

(2)  the total amount of court fees and costs.

(c)  In each month following the month in which payment is made under Subsection (b), the inmate shall pay an amount equal to the lesser of:

(1)  10 percent of that month's deposits to the trust account; or

(2)  the total amount of court fees and costs that remain unpaid.

(d)  Payments under Subsection (c) shall continue until the total amount of court fees and costs are paid or until the inmate is released from confinement.

(e)  On receipt of a copy of an order issued under Subsection (a), the department or jail shall withdraw money from the trust account in accordance with Subsections (b), (c), and (d). The department or jail shall hold the money in a separate account and shall forward the money to the court clerk on the earlier of the following dates:

(1)  the date the total amount to be forwarded equals the total amount of court fees and costs that remains unpaid; or

(2)  the date the inmate is released.

(f)  The inmate shall file a certified copy of the inmate's trust account statement with the court. The statement must reflect the balance of the account at the time the claim is filed and activity in the account during the six months preceding the date on which the claim is filed. The court may request the department or jail to furnish the information required under this subsection.

(g)  An inmate may authorize payment in addition to that required by this section.

(h)  The court may dismiss a claim if the inmate fails to pay fees and costs assessed under this section.

(i)  An inmate may not avoid the fees and costs assessed under this section by nonsuiting a party or by voluntarily dismissing the action.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.007.  Other Costs.

(a) An order of a court under Section 14.006(a) shall include the costs described by Subsection (b) if the court finds that:

(1)  the inmate has previously filed an action in a district, county, justice of the peace, or small claims court; and

(2)  a final order has been issued that affirms that the action was dismissed as frivolous or malicious under Section 13.001 or Section 14.003 or otherwise.

(b)  Costs under Subsection (a) shall include, as costs of court, expenses incurred by the court or by the department, jail, or private facility operator, in connection with the claim and not otherwise charged to the inmate under Section 14.006, including:

(1)  expenses of service of process;

(2)  postage; and

(3)  transportation, housing, or medical care incurred in connection with the appearance of the inmate in the court for any proceeding.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.008.  Hearing.

(a) The court may hold a hearing under this chapter at a jail or a facility operated by or under contract with the department or may conduct the hearing with video communications technology that permits the court to see and hear the inmate and that permits the inmate to see and hear the court and any other witness.

(b)  A hearing conducted under this section by video communications technology shall be recorded on videotape. The recording is sufficient to serve as a permanent record of the hearing.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.009.  Submission Of Evidence.

(a) The court may request a person with an admissible document or admissible testimony relevant to the subject matter of the hearing to submit a copy of the document or written statement stating the substance of the testimony.

(b)  A written statement submitted under this section must be made under oath or made as an unsworn declaration under Section 132.001.

(c)  A copy of a document submitted under this section must be accompanied by a certification executed under oath by an appropriate custodian of the record stating that the copy is correct and any other matter relating to the admissibility of the document that the court requires.

(d)  A person submitting a written statement or document under this section is not required to appear at the hearing.

(e)  The court shall require that the inmate be provided with a copy of each written statement or document not later than 14 days before the date on which the hearing is to begin.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.010.  Dismissal Of Claim.

(a) The court may enter an order dismissing the entire claim or a portion of the claim under this chapter.

(b)  If a portion of the claim is dismissed, the court shall designate the issues and defendants on which the claim may proceed, subject to Sections 14.006 and 14.007.

(c)  An order under this section is not subject to interlocutory appeal by the inmate.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.011.  Effect On Other Claims.

(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), on receipt of an order assessing fees and costs under Section 14.006 that indicates that the court made the finding described by Section 14.007(a), a clerk of a court may not accept for filing another claim by the inmate until the fees and costs assessed under Section 14.006 are paid.

(b)  A court may allow an inmate who has not paid the fees and costs assessed against the inmate to file a claim for injunctive relief seeking to enjoin an act or failure to act that creates a substantial threat of irreparable injury or serious physical harm to the inmate.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.012.  Questionnaire.

To implement this chapter, a court may develop, for use in that court, a questionnaire to be filed by the inmate.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.013.  Review And Recommendation By Magistrates.

(a) The supreme court shall, by rule, adopt a system under which a court may refer a suit governed by this chapter to a magistrate for review and recommendation.

(b)  The system adopted under Subsection (a) may be funded from money appropriated to the supreme court or from money received by the supreme court through interagency contract or contracts.

(c)  For the purposes of Section 14.014, the adoption of a system by rule under Subsection (a) does not constitute a modification or repeal of a provision of this chapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.



Section  14.014.  Conflict With Texas Rules Of Civil Procedure.

Notwithstanding Section 22.004, Government Code, this chapter may not be modified or repealed by a rule adopted by the supreme court.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 378, Sec. 2, eff. June 8, 1995.


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