Haines v. Sheeley (pdf) (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Mar. 18, 2010)(per curiam)
(
inmate litigation, Chapter 14 of CPRC)
Appellant Rodney Steve Haines, appeals the dismissal of his suit under Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil
Practice and Remedies Code. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 14.001-.014 (Vernon 2002). In one
issue, he asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing his suit. We affirm.
AFFIRMED: Per Curiam     
Before Chief Justice Hedges, Justices Anderson and Christopher   
14-09-00064-CV Rodney Steve Haines v. Mary K. Sheeley, Correctional Warden     
Appeal from 87th District Court of Freestone County
[Name of trial judge not shown on appellate docket]

MEMORANDUM  OPINION

Appellant Rodney Steve Haines, appeals the dismissal of his suit under Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil
Practice and Remedies Code. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 14.001-.014 (Vernon 2002). In one
issue, he asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing his suit. We affirm.

According to his petition, Haines was assaulted by Freddy Vargas, another inmate at the Boyd Unit of the
Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Freestone County. Haines was transported for treatment of his
injuries to the East Texas Medical Center at Fairfield. After an administrative investigation, Vargas received
disciplinary action. Haines asserts that he wanted to file criminal charges against Vargas. He claims that
prison officials informed him that charges would be filed, but they were not. Haines initiated an inmate
grievance, but was unsuccessful in obtaining relief. Haines contacted the Freestone County Sheriff’s office
and requested that charges be filed against Vargas. He also contacted the Office of the Inspector General,
the Texas Attorney General’s office, the Freestone County Attorney, and the Freestone County Clerk in an
effort to have charges filed. After receiving no assistance from these agencies and exhausting the inmate
grievance process, Haines filed this suit against Mary K. Sheeley, the Senior Warden of the Boyd Unit,
seeking an “Alternative Writ” ordering her to submit the necessary information to the appropriate Freestone
County officials to initiate a criminal prosecution against Vargas.

On November 14, 2008, the trial court signed a dismissal order. Haines filed a timely notice of appeal. On
appeal, Haines claims that the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing his suit, thereby denying his First
Amendment right to petition the court for redress of grievances and his right to due course of law.

Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code governs inmate litigation. See Tex. Civ. Prac. &
Rem. Code Ann. §§ 14.001-.014 (Vernon 2002). We review a trial court’s Chapter 14 dismissal of an inmate’
s claims under an abuse of discretion standard. Retzlaff v. Tex. Dep’t of Crim. Justice, 94 S.W.3d 650, 654
(Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, pet. denied). A trial court has broad discretion to dismiss an inmate’s
suit if it finds that the claim asserted is frivolous or malicious. Martinez v. Thaler, 931 S.W.2d 45, 46 (Tex.
App —Houston [14th Dist.] 1996, writ denied). A trial court abuses this broad discretion if it acts arbitrarily,
capriciously, or without reference to any guiding rules or principles. Id. A trial court may dismiss a claim
before or after service of process if the court finds that the claim is frivolous or malicious. Tex. Civ. Prac. &
Rem. Code Ann. § 14.003(a)(2)(Vernon 2002).

Chapter 14 sets forth procedural requirements that an inmate must satisfy when filing a suit pro se and
seeking to proceed in forma pauperis.[1] Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem.Code Ann. §§ 14.002, 14.004-.006 (Vernon
2002); see also Lilly v. Northrep, 100 S.W.3d 335, 336 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2002, pet. denied). Failure
to comply with these requirements will result in dismissal of an inmate’s suit. Bell v. Tex. Dep’t of Crim. Justice-
Inst. Div., 962 S.W.2d 156, 158 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1998, pet. denied).

One of the chapter’s requirements is that an inmate must file a separate affidavit or declaration describing
each suit that the inmate has previously filed pro se. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 14.004 (Vernon
2002). The affidavit or declaration must (a) describe the operative facts for which relief was sought; (b) list
the case name, cause number, and the court in which the suit was brought; (c) identify each party named in
the suit; and (d) state the result of the suit, including whether the suit was dismissed as frivolous or malicious.
Id. § 14.004(a)(2). These requirements were enacted to allow the trial court to determine whether an inmate’s
present claim is similar to a previously-filed claim. See Clark v. J.W. Estelle Unit, 23 S.W.3d 420, 422 (Tex.
App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2000, pet. denied) (stating that “[t]he purpose of section 14.004 is to curb the
constant, often duplicative, inmate litigation, by requiring the inmate to notify the trial court of previous
litigation and the outcome).

The petition in this case is not accompanied by the required affidavit or declaration describing any prior suits
that Haines filed. The burden to provide such information rests on the pro se litigant. See, e.g., Clark, 23 S.W.
3d at 42 (refusing to hold that trial court must sift through numerous documents to find information required
by section 14.004). Dismissal of the suit is warranted when Chapter 14’s procedure requirements have not
been met. See Bell, 962 S.W.2d at 158.

Based on this record, we cannot say the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing Haines’s suit. We
overrule Haines’s sole issue and affirm the trial court’s judgment.

                                                                   PER CURIAM


Panel consists of Chief Justice Hedges and Justices Anderson and Christopher.

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[1] While we find no pauper’s affidavit in our record, Haines’s petition states that he complied with certain of Chapter 14’s
requirements, the dismissal order states that the trial court considered Chapter 14 in dismissing the suit, and Haines has not
contested the applicability of Chapter 14. Therefore, we will review the dismissal under Chapter 14. See Summers v. State
Dept. of Crim. Justice, 256 S.W.3d 752, 755 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2008, no pet.).