susterlaw blog

The Suster Law Group to Co-Sponsor Joint Appellate Seminar

Monday, October 19th, 2015

The Suster Law Group to co-sponsor the Dallas-Fort Worth Joint Appellate Seminar to be held at the Old Red Courthouse on November 5th, 2015.
The event to be attended by various panelists including justices from the Courts of Appeals and their staff attorneys.

Click Here


Justice Courts Redistricted in Dallas

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

JUSTICE COURTS HAVE BEEN REDISTRICTED

             Effective January 3, 2012, the districts and maps of several justice courts in Dallas County will change.  At least one Justice of the Peace will be squeezed out.

             Judge Al Cercone, Precinct 3-1, will relocate to the precinct that is currently known as Precinct 3-3 (located at Marsh Lane).  Judge Steve Seider, Precinct 3-3, will relocate to the precinct that is currently known as Precinct 3-2 (located at Belt Line Rd. – currently presided over by Judge Sandra Ellis).  What is currently Precinct 3-1 (located at St. Francis) will now become Precinct 5-1.  Such new precinct will be presided over by Judge Carlos Medrano.  However, because of Judge Medrano’s suspension due to criminal matters, it appears that such Court will be temporarily administered by Judge Sandra Ellis.


JP “Paupers” Writs of Possession Raises Hosts of Questions

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

QUESTIONS RAISED BY NEW LAW
GRANTING EARLY POSSESSION OF PROPERTY

             The legislature recently amended the Texas Property Code to authorize the justice courts to issue writs of possession, if the tenant fails to pay an “initial deposit of rent” into the justice court registry within five days of the date a tenant files a pauper’s affidavit.  If the justice court has not yet forwarded the transcript and original papers to the county court, the justice court may issue a writ of possession without a hearing.  The new legislation is similar to that of previous legislation giving county courts the authority to grant writs of possession for failure to pay monies to the registry of the courts.

             At first blush, this appears to be a substantial victory for landlords in their quest to quickly regain possession of their property without regard to any appeal.  As of the writing of this article, I believe the new legislation raises a host of issues that do not appear to be addressed by any legislation or court rules.  Getting immediate possession of the property may not be a “quick fix” to the eviction.

             Granting the landlord with possession of property before a judgment on appeal raises all kinds of questions.  For example, assuming a landlord is able to obtain quick possession of its property in the justice court (because the tenant did not pay the initial required deposit), and assuming the landlord immediately relets the property to a third party, what happens if the landlord loses on appeal of the case in the county court?  I am not certain that the law provides that a new tenant can be divested of his occupancy.  If a landlord succeeds in obtaining quick possession of the premises before a trial on appeal of the case, is the issue of possession simply moot?  If possession is already lost by the tenant, is the county court restricted from even addressing the issue of possession?  What if the tenant was improperly evicted in the justice court by the landlord?  Is the tenant not otherwise entitled to an appeal?  Does an appeal otherwise continue to the county court?  The statute does not end the appeal for any interim writs of possession ordered by any of the courts.

             If a landlord can get possession of its property before any appeal in a county court, why should the landlord bother to prosecute any appeal and incur legal expenses, if it already has possession of its property?  After getting possession of its property before any appeal is taken to the county court, can a landlord simply dismiss its suit?  What is the effect of a nonsuit or dismissal of the eviction suit?  Assuming the landlord gets possession of its property before any trial can be held in a county court on appeal, I believe that a landlord has a right to dismiss its suit and not prosecute the case on any appeal.  While I believe some county courts may attempt to restrict the dismissal of such cases, I believe such actions by the courts would be erroneous.  Nevertheless, dismissal of the suit prior to any ultimate ruling on the issue by the county court can result in potential litigation and liability against landlords who wrongfully evict their tenants, even though they succeed in the justice court.

             Regardless of whether a tenant properly posts money into the registry of the court, assuming the tenant has otherwise properly appealed as a pauper, the case will be set for trial as an appeal (tried de novo) in the county court.  Once the case is appealed, the legal effect of the justice court judgment is nullified as if there was never any such judgment.  A final determination and judgment by the county court in favor of the landlord preclusively establishes liability against the tenant, and in my view, typically shields the landlord from any liability on wrongful eviction claims as well as claims for conversion and trespass.  However, I believe there is no such protection for a landlord who prematurely dismisses the eviction suit before obtaining a county court judgment.  If a tenant decides to subsequently challenge the actions of the landlord in dispossessing the tenant, the costs of defending such claims and the potential exposure to liability can be substantial.  Therefore, the landlord should be aware that an improperly dispossessed tenant (for example, the notice to vacate was not properly served), can subject itself to liability and separate litigation on claims that relate to the handling of the eviction in the justice court.  Finally, court costs for the tenant’s appeal can be taxed against the landlord upon the dismissal of its suit as court costs are taxed to the party that dismisses its case.  The landlord could be made to pay all of the filing fees required to have been paid by the tenant if the tenant had not been granted pauper’s status.

             In sum, I believe there will be a host of issues to be addressed and resolved by the courts because of the recent changes allowing the justice courts to order possession of property because of a tenant’s failure to pay rents into the registry of the court.  No doubt, this may have a substantial effect on the eviction process and how landlords choose to handle their cases.  In the end, may simply be easier to wait for the county courts to grant a judgment before obtaining a writ of possession.


AAGD Legal Services Program

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Israel Suster has been an attorney member and has been a participant in the Legal Services Program for the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas, since 1995.  Since then, he has written numerous articles for the industry publication, Rooflines, and has participated in educational seminars and programs for the members of the Association.  He is currently featured on the cover of Roofline’s magazine.  Click here


The Suster Law Group Co-Sponsors Appellate Seminar

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

The Suster Law Group to co-sponsor Dallas-Fort Worth Joint Appellate Seminar to be held at the AT&T Performing Arts Center on October 6, 2011. The event to be attended by various panelists including justices from the 2nd and 5th Courts of Appeals and their staff attorneys.  Topics include trends in case filings and hot topics in mandamus practice.  Click Here


Judgment Against Contractor Reversed and Rendered

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Judgment against client roofing contractor reversed and rendered against Plaintiffs by Eastland Court of Appeals.  Plaintiffs were not competent to testify regarding damages to roofs on personal residence and commercial property.  Click here.


Israel Suster to Speak at Code Enforcement Summit

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

On March 11, 2011, The City of Irving will be hosting the Summit for Texas Code Enforcement Attorneys at the Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas.  This is a continuing legal education  seminar designed for  municipal attorneys that handle, litigate and prosecute code compliance, zoning and building standards cases.  Israel Suster will be serving as a guest speaker  and will be addressing such topics as title ownership concepts of multi-family properties, enforcement issues with temporary injunctions as well as applicability of federal housing claims against municipalities.  Click here for Brochure


Mandatory Crime Reduction for Properties

Monday, January 24th, 2011

As a way to curb crime in neighborhoods, many cities throughout the state of Texas have adopted ordinances imposing mandatory crime  reduction participation programs  for multi-family properties.  Such mandatory participation (with the threat of criminal or civil action against owners) is determined by a property’s “crime index.”  The crime index is based upon criminal statistics at and around the property (the neighborhood) and takes into account the property’s occupancy rates.  Typically, the process of designation begins with a notification to management or ownership of such designation of property into the city’s mandatory program.  An owner has the right to contest the city’s designation, but only within a particular timeframe.  After designation, the owner’s property is typically subjected to all types code inspections, including general code and fire compliance.   Of course, owners are required to “beef up” all background and credit searches on existing and prospective tenants.  Some cities will also tag the properties with criminal citations.  The attached article addresses issues that owners and management should be aware of when dealing with such mandatory designations. Click here


Don’t Forget to Vote!

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Voter day is Tuesday, November, 2, 2010.  Don’t just vote straight party ticket for judges!  See the latest issue of D Magazine.  Critical votes for good judges are needed.  If you are unsure as to who to vote for your judges, please contact our office and we will be happy to give you  a list of judges that we support!